Like many profound, beautiful, and powerful arts and sciences, yoga has suffered from the spiritual poverty of the modern world--it has been trivialized, watered down, or reduced to cliches. The deep and eternal essence of yoga has been misrepresented and packaged for personal profit by clever people. At the hands of some, yoga has been reduced to just another exercise program. In other contexts, yoga has been presented as a cult religion aimed at attracting "devotees." Such a haze of confusion has been created around the clear and pure concept of yoga that it is now necessary to redefine yoga and clarify its meaning and purpose.
Yoga defines itself as a science: that is, as a practical, methodical, and systematic discipline, or set of techniques, which has the lofty goal of helping human beings become aware of their true nature. The goal of seeking to experience this deepest potential is not part of a religious process. It is an experiential science of self-study. Religions seek to define what we should believe, while a practical science such as meditation is based on the concrete experience of teachers and yogis who have used these techniques to experience the deepest Self. Yoga does not contradict or interfere with any religion, and may be practiced by everyone, whether they regard themselves as agnostics or members of a particular faith.
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