Yoga is a subject which can be looked at intellectually and some useful and beneficial ideas imbibed. Yoga can be imbibed by adopting certain attitudes which alter the nature of the samskaras. Yoga can be imbibed by living in an ashram environment and trying to be aware of the physical, mental and spiritual dimensions at the same time. Yoga can be learnt in a classroom environment as science, as psychology, as an applied subject, with the aim of providing new understanding and insight into the life process, into areas where karmas are performed, into areas which shape the inner being in terms of awareness, inner development, the experience of harmony or balance, eventually culminating in the experience of samadhi and the fullness of wisdom, prajna.
A state of yoga can be attained when wisdom is established. This has been the vision of the seers who brought forth Satyananda yoga. This yoga is presented in the form of a lifestyle, understanding and attitude. It is presented as an integral part of the day-to-day activities, of understanding one's dharma and kartavya, obligations and responsibilities, and trying to see the whole world as one slowly evolving and unfolding unit.
These are the components of Satyananda yoga. Many yoga masters and their schools have developed their own brand of yoga. Some have followed and propagated the path of hatha yoga, some bhakti yoga, others jnana yoga or kundalini yoga. Yet others have followed different trends of yoga. Satyananda yoga, also known as Bihar yoga, is following a trend of yoga which is trying to mould itself to the conditions of day-to-day life and, by becoming part of one's life, creating a different level of understanding about the desires, complexes, inhibitions, attachments and passions.
One of the highlights of Satyananda yoga is practising yoga as sadhana. To perfect yoga one should try to develop tyaga, or renunciation. Many aspirants find that they can renounce certain things which they may not need, but there is a tendency to cling to objects, people and ideas with whom there is an association. Renunciation should not be isolation from the beauty of life. For those who take it to be isolation and try to be something they are not, tyaga is definitely a difficult process. Some people, however, do pass through this process and attain enlightenment.
If there is a need for self-expression, society provides different areas to meet those needs. Each stage of life has been given different sets of karmas and dharmas and, in these different stages, different roles can be played. In grihastha ashrama, or householder life, one can play the role of a responsible, caring, providing citizen of society, expressing one's needs, achievements and thoughts, fulfilling whatever one wishes to attain in life. In brahmacharya ashrama, or student life, there is the freedom to learn, understand, imbibe, enjoy and equip oneself with the means to succeed in life.
This is the language of the Bhagavad Gita. There has to be acceptance of the reality that is oneself, that expresses itself through the form of emotions and feelings, without attachment yet with awareness. Remaining aware of such transformations is difficult, but tyaga is a pre-condition as are acceptance and non-attachment. One has to know what one wants to attain in life, which is not just related to the world of maya, following the human instincts of ahara (craving), nidra (sleep), bhaya (fear) and maithuna (sex). There has to be awareness. These are some of the pre-conditions of perfecting Bihar yoga.