Harmony is the meaning of yoga. People say yoga means union but can there be union without harmony? If there is no harmony, there cannot be any form of union. Union is the outcome of this state of harmony. If the body is sick then it has to be made well, and health is the harmony in this context. If the mind is unbalanced it has to be brought into balance and mental health is harmony in this context. Harmony is the actual meaning of the word yoga and harmony has to be felt at every stage of life. So we first have to consider the areas of life where we need to create inner harmony.
Yoga begins with the practices of the body because body is something with which we can identify very quickly and deeply. If there is a pain, stiffness or disease in any part of the body we know that it is there. We can even say that the majority of our awareness revolves around the physical condition. Since we identify intimately and deeply with the body, in the initial stages of yoga we work with our body with the help of asana, pranayama and other hatha yoga practices.
Once physical harmony is obtained then we automatically become aware of some mental needs. We begin to feel the pressure of the stress and tension in our minds, so that becomes the next area of work in yoga – how to release tension, how to release stress, how to experience inner relaxation. In this process we also learn how to focus ourselves, so in this way we see the practices of yoga gradually evolving from body to mind.
The practices can also evolve up to the spiritual level but we stop after coming to the superficial awareness of mind because we think we have completed and attained everything that we wanted or needed to attain. We lack the understanding of the other areas of life which in subtle ways continue to guide the performances of our life. So, we have to begin by developing an awareness of the different structures and areas of life. We have to develop awareness of the different dimensions of life and use the practices of yoga to harmonize these different dimensions and the activities which happen in these different dimensions.
The concept of human personality is vast and broad in yoga. Yoga is not concerned with the body nor with the spiritual nature of a person. Yoga is not concerned with individual aspirations and desires, though of course they are fulfilled in the course of time. The main concern of yoga is with the development of the total human personality.
Yoga has felt that human beings interact on different levels which have been defined in the form of dimensions or states of mind. They start with the most physical level and include the most subtle, encompassing psychic and spiritual areas also. We will have to look into the theory of human personality in order to know the depth of yoga. We shall try to look at the various aspects of human nature because it is only after we have become aware of the different stages which govern and direct our life that we will be able to apply yoga and attain our goal. The goal, according to yoga, is to find perfection in life. Realization or union with God may be the outcome of that perfection. The perfection which we attain is the result of knowledge about ourselves.