What is True Yoga?
Chapter 6 of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita is titled, “The True Yoga”. In this chapter, the teacher, Shri Krishna, teaches his pupil, Arjuna, the nature of True Yoga. It begins with the explanation of the true nature and spirit of renunciation, and the relationship of renunciation to desireless action.
On Renunciation and Work
anaashritah karmaphalaM, kaaryaM karma karate yah
sa sanyasi cha yogi cha, na niragnir na cha~kriyah – B.G. 6.1
अनाश्रित: कर्मफलं कार्यं कर्म करोती य: ।
स सन्नयासी च योगी च न निरग्निर् न चाक्रिय: ।।
Those who do the work which they ought to do without seeking its fruit – they are the true yogis. This is in contrast to those who simply abstain from lighting the sacred fire or performing any rites. The act of sanyaasa or renunciation has little to do with outward works, and everything to do with our inner attitude. To simply give up daily rituals, to abstain from them without developing within ourselves the spirit of renunciation, is futile.
On Disciplined Activity
yaM sanyaasamiti praahuryogaM taM viddhi paandava
na hyasaMnyasta saMkalpo yogi bhavati kashcana
यं सन्नयासमिति प्राहूर्योगं तं विद्धि पाण्डव ।
न ह्यसन्नयस्त संकल्पो योगी भवति कश्र्चन ।।
What they call renunciation (sanyaasa), is equivalent to be disciplined activity (Yoga of action), O Pandava (Arjuna), for nobody becomes a yogi who has not renounced their (selfish) purpose. Our thoughts of the world, also called our saMkalpa, our firm desires for rewards and fruits of our actions, is what stands between us and True Yoga.
In other words, sanyaasa or renunciation consists in the accomplishment of the necessary action, as performed by a karmayogi (कर्मयोगि) – one who acts without an inward striving for reward.
What is true Yoga? It is in having firm control over oneself, complete self-possession.