To become aware of this union, the practice of Yoga teaches us to see past dualism and free ourselves from conditioning and preconceptions, from lower feelings and thoughts and to get over personal impurities that envelop our being. Yoga philosophers have, just as Buddhism, named a number of afflictions of our mind, the Kleshas, that distort or cloud our perceptions and effect how we think, act and feel. They are the reasons for our suffering, our impurity and our disconnection form the universal soul.
- Avidya or ignorance as the root affliction. Avidya is the misconception of reality, seeing the temporary as eternal, the impure as pure.
- Asmita or egoism is the identification of ourselves with the ego. We create an image of ourselves which we believe is true but which is not really us. We fail to see our whole being and our interconnection with other. We distinguish here particularly between, external (rich and poor) and internal (good and bad) perceptions of ourselves and others.
- Raga or attachment is the attraction to the things that bring us satisfaction. The desire for pleasures creates mindless actions and we suffer when we can’t obtain. A good example are addictions simple as coffee or cigarettes.
- Dvesha or repulsion is the opposite of Raga and means the aversion towards things that produce unpleasant experiences. We suffer when we can’t avoid, for example a room full of smokers or a cold shower.
- Abhinivesha is the deepest of all Kleshas, the fear of death and the fear behind all other fears, ingrained in us through our survival instinct.
There are many ways out of these afflictions, different paths of yoga just as there are different inclinations in different people. A commonly used image in Yoga says that there are many roads leading to the top of the mountain – once we’re up there we all have the same view. However, the first step is always the acknowledgement and understanding of these impurities followed by self-reflection. And that is something that needs to come from inside, the desire to cleanse oneself from impurities and be free from suffering. If this desire is immanent and present, then we’re probably already on at least one of the many paths. The main four of these paths of Yoga are Karma Yoga, the Yoga of action, Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of devotion, Jnana Yoga, the Yoga of knowledge and Raja Yoga, the Yoga of the mind or self-discipline.