Yoga is the stilling of the changing states of the mind / Yogas citta-vrtti-nirodhah (in Sanskrit)
The Yoga Sutras - Chapter 1, Sutra #2
Yoga has various definitions expressed in different ancient Hindu traditions, which collectively refer to a number of practices that control the mind. Ultimately, this helps the practitioner to achieve liberation of their soul or "true self" from the influence of external matter, which is constantly changing, and which is almost impossible to control.
The second sutra lays out the basis of the metaphysics of the yoga process and defines what the yoga is. According to Patanjali - “Yoga is the stilling of all thoughts” or in other words “yoga is the cessation (nirodha) of the activities (vtttis) of the mind (cittta)”.
“Citta” in Sanskrit is not just mind, it consists of three separate parts: intellect (our knowledge, judgment, will), ego (our self-awareness and self-identification) and mind (our feelings, concepts, recognitions, thinking). Every day we experience fluctuations of the mind in the form of various ideas, thoughts, beliefs, emotions. Most of the time, our mind is not calm because it is subject to these fluctuations and activities or “vrttis” in Sanskrit. The deliberate yoga practice helps calm the mind from these fluctuations.
To gain a deeper understanding of why the mind should be calm, I would like to describe the Sankhya here. “Sankhya”, which means “numeration” in Sanskrit, is a school of philosophy that forms the theoretical foundation of yoga. According to Sankhya, the universe consists of two categories: “prakriti” - the matter or material part of the world, which is constantly changing, and “purusa” - the soul, the true self or pure awareness, which is immortal and eternal according to the yoga philosophy.
Since all activities of the mind are products of “prakriti”, matter, and they are completely distinct from the soul or true self, “purusa”, they must be stilled so that the soul takes the first place, and the mind or ego becomes secondary. Basically, our ego makes us angry, upset, offended, thereby leading us away from the state of true happiness. The soul, on the other hand, cannot suffer and is full of light. When the ego becomes transparent and small, and the soul comes first, we can finally achieve happiness.
Deliberate yoga and meditation practices allow us to control the mind and ego and liberate our souls and true self.
Thank yourself for your yoga and meditation practice - you are on your way to achieving happiness!