Swami Sivananda and Swami Satyananda have both said that yoga is a medium, a means by which you can cultivate your inherent creativity and manage the external manifestations of the mind which cause grief and strife, in a better way. If you can learn how to manage your grief, tensions and strife, if you can learn how to manage your emotions, desires, ambitions and passions, then that state of equilibrium will lead to the birth of a different consciousness, which is the drashta consciousness, described in the Yoga Sutras as Tada drashtu swaroope avasthanam, the state of the witness.
It is the state where you can become the witness of your participation in the world of maya, the world of senses and sense objects, rather than being a blind follower of the senses and sense objects. By cultivating this witnessing aspect you can see how maya influences you, affects you and how you can try to come out from the influence of maya.
When the waters of a lake are still, you can see the clouds, the sky, the trees, the mountains, the sun and the moon reflected in it. However, when the water is disturbed nothing can be seen in it. In the same way, when your mind is at rest the world is reflected in it; the inner excitement, restlessness and stimulation have been quietened. As the mind rests and finds peace, it discovers sattwa, the quality of truth, but when it is restless, you lose clarity of mind.
The yogic journey started from this idea. The sages taught that through yoga, it is possible to overcome the restrictive conditionings of life: the restrictions in the mind, energy and body. It is possible to have an understanding and experience of the higher nature, the transcendental nature beyond the range of attraction and the gravitational pull of maya, which is strong. In order to harness that energy and realize that consciousness, and then become free from the conditionings of life and the world, a system was developed. This system included physical practices, mental practices and many other types of practices, which could become the tools to transform the expressions of the faculties and energies that you normally express outwardly in your life.
Published in Yogadrishti Series: Yoga in Daily Life