Yoga philosophy is based on Vedanta, the final part of the Vedas, the sacred books of India left by the Rishis, realized sages and yogis who lived several thousands years ago.
Vedanta is a non dualistic philosophy whose central idea is that the manifested world as our mind and senses perceive it (Prakriti) is based on an illusion (Maya).
According to Vedanta, the only immutable reality is Brahman, or the Universal Consciousness that is permeating the entire creation. The goal of the yogi is to no longer identify with the limited perceptions of his senses and mind and to realize that his essence, the Self (Atman), and Brahman, are one.
Vedanta constitutes the philosophical base for Jnana Yoga, the path of Knowledge.
The Self or Atman
According to Vedanta, the essential nature of a human being is the Self or Atman, which is of divine essence. Despite their diversity, all beings share the same essence. The feeling of separation between beings and Nature is therefore considered as illusory.
The identification with the senses and the mind
To be able to interact with the external world, our soul is equipped with instruments that allow it to feel, memorize, analyze and communicate with the outside: these instruments are the senses and the mind.
As long as man has not realized his divine nature, he tends to identify with what his senses perceive and with his thoughts. But the senses and the mind are merely tools used by the soul. They are not us.
This false identification is the cause of most of our problems because it occults our true nature, which is the only one able to bring us true happiness.
Letting consciousness take control of our existence
The goal of yoga is to gradually cease to identify with the products of our senses and our mind, to allow the light of our Self to manifest.
To achieve this goal, it is necessary to educate the senses and the mind in order to make them obedient so that our life can be driven by the soul again.
All yoga practices are aiming in that direction.
When man is free from the constant pressure exerted by the senses and the mind, he then has the necessary clarity to perceive the impulsions of his consciousness, which can guide him towards his true Self better than anyone else.
Vedanta philosophy can be difficult to grasp without proper preparation at a physical, emotional and mental level.
Concretely, the application of the principles and practices described in the Raja Yoga of Patanjali (moral principles, postures, breathing exercises, withdrawal of senses, concentration, meditation, state of union), constitute a precious help to gradually detach oneself from the power of the senses and slowly experience the silence of the mind, from which it is possible to access our true nature.