Vedanta talks about the joining of the individual being with the supreme.
Yoga is from the root yuj, which means “to join” or “to connect”. There have to be two entities to “join”. And “join” also implies that the two are separate and not connected yet.
Vedanta talks about the joining of the individual being with the supreme. Each one of us is a limited finite being. The physical body is limited in time and space. The mind, its abilities and intellect are also limited. We are also limited by various factors. Since we can never be happy with so many limitations, we engage in activities to break them.
The individual is called a jiva in Vedanta. The two distinctive qualities of any jiva are “doership” and “enjoyership”. The individual feels that he is the performer of actions. Since all actions are done in order to get a result and enjoy it, the individual is also the experiencer and enjoyer of the results. If you don’t have any desire for comforts or pleasure, why would you work? Even for simple sustenance of life, you have to work. So the jiva is a doer and enjoyer. Both actions and their results have limitations.
In the final analysis, all of us are seeking total freedom from all limitations. You can call that liberation or moksha. What we seek is a release from all sense of limitations. In Vedanta, this state — let us call it a state — is known as Brahman.
Yoga is to join the jiva with Brahman. How do we do that? Are they like two hands or two objects? No. Brahman, being infinite, does not have a limited form or specific qualities. Jiva is struggling to “become”. A limited entity cannot become infinite through a process. Vedanta says that you cannot “become” Brahman, but you are already that! The very fact that you are struggling to become means it has to be your own nature. You are “that” already — tat tvam-asi.
Is limitation my essential nature? Please note that one’s essential nature is never a burden. Sorrow and agitation cannot be my nature, because I want to get rid of them and want to be free and infinite.
Yoga is a merger of the jiva with Brahman. Jiva cannot “join” Brahman in such a way that the two entities remain distinct. The jiva has to be one with Brahman. So yoga is the discovery of our own true self as that infinite, everlasting bliss. We use words like “merging”, but actually it is a discovery — I have been “that” all along! This is the meaning of “yoga” at the highest level. This discovery and abidance in “that” is called “yoga”. It is the very goal of our human existence.