Sadhaka : What is the main purpose of Yoga practices?
Swamiji : Yoga is God's gift to mankind for the attainment of man's highest good. Yoga recognises the true purpose of human life. Yoga plainly states that man is essentially of the nature of Bliss, perfection, peace and freedom. Everlastingly he is one with That. The achieving of 'at-onement' with that wonderful Perfection (Divinity) is Yoga. To regain the true awareness and to realise once again his everlasting oneness with the Divine is actually the purpose of Yoga. The central message of Yoga is: Wherever you are, whatever you are, try to find God, try to live a noble life purify yourself of the lower nature. Shine with virtue. Create in yourself the divine qualities and awaken the Divine within you, and move towards God.
The destiny of the human being is evolution and we all are progressing towards ultimate perfection, since we are all meant to realise once again the innate Divinity. Yoga means ascending into purity. However, the normal course of human evolution is very very slow, requiring many lives. The technique evolved to rapidly go through this process of achieving fulfilment and perfection is named "Yoga". The yogic way of life is one that implies a great intensification of the process of evolution. Yoga means an intensification of evolution within a single life span, or perhaps even within just a few years. Yoga is intensified efforts to pack into a short span all the experiences.
Yoga is attaining bliss and blessedness through union with the Supreme Universal Spirit. Yoga is God-experience. Yoga is the attainment of spiritual union with the Divine Source of your being. The ultimate cause of all sorrow is that we have forgotten our eternal link with the perennial source of infinite Joy, of never-ending Happiness. Bliss is in the Eternal Reality. That alone is the source of true happiness. It is the union with the Divine, which brings about a severance or a dissociation of man's union with pain, sorrow, suffering and miseries of mundane life. Yoga is the ultimate way to succeed in this universal quest of man on earth for liberating himself from all sorrow, pain and suffering and entering into a state of absolute Bliss and blessedness. And this can be brought about only by once again restoring our lost link with Brahman, whom we refer to as God. Yoga tells us in a scientific way how to attain that Supreme State of joy and peace. The purpose of Yoga is to give the highest Vedantic Experience. This science does not depend merely upon belief, but upon experience gained from the practical application of its principles. Yoga is studying and practising the scientific methods to attain that Divine Experience.
What Divinity is, that essentially man also is. Man partakes of the same nature and is enabled to regain his awareness of that divine nature by subjecting himself to the process of Yoga. Right at the innermost centre of your being the all-blissful Brahman abides as the very innermost essence of your existence. Therefore, Yoga is an inner spiritual journey and it requires that we try to put an end to constant habitual activity of the mind, which is outgoing. Yoga is the methodology of your inner ascent towards spiritual Illumination and God-experience. By availing himself of certain well-tried practical techniques, one is raised in consciousness from the physical level to the vast transcendental spiritual level. This higher level becomes one with the Cosmic Consciousness.
You have forgotten your true identity, which is not human but Divine. This name-form personality is not the true you. Your human identity is only a temporary phenomenon that has been superimposed upon your essential identity (nija-svarupa), which is Divine. To regain the true awareness and to realise once again your everlasting oneness with the Divine is actually the purpose of Yoga.