The ultimate goal of Yoga is Moksha (liberation), although the exact form this takes depends on the philosophical or theological system with which it is conjugated.
In the classical Astanga yoga system, the ultimate goal of yoga practice is to achieve the state of Samadhi and abide in that state as pure awareness.
According to Jacobsen, Yoga has five principal traditional meanings
- a disciplined method for attaining a goal
- techniques of controlling the body and the mind
- a name of a school or system of philosophy (darśana)
- with prefixes such as “Hatha-, mantra-, and laya-, traditions specializing in particular techniques of yoga
- the goal of Yoga practice.
- According to David Gordon White, from the 5th century CE onward, the core principles of “yoga” were more or less in place and variations of these principles developed in various forms over time
a meditative means of discovering dysfunctional perception and cognition, as well as overcoming it for release from suffering, inner peace, and salvation; illustration of this principle is found in Hindu texts such as the Bhagavad Gita and Yogasutras, in a number of Buddhist Mahāyāna works, as well as Jain texts;
the raising and expansion of consciousness from oneself to being coextensive with everyone and everything; these are discussed in sources such as in Hinduism Vedic literature and its Epic Mahābhārata, Jainism Praśamaratiprakarana, and Buddhist Nikaya texts
a path to omniscience and enlightened consciousness enabling one to comprehend the impermanent (illusive, delusive) and permanent (true, transcendent) reality; examples are found in Hinduism Nyaya and Vaisesika school texts as well as Buddhism Mādhyamaka texts, but in different ways;
a technique for entering into other bodies, generating multiple bodies, and the attainment of other supernatural accomplishments; these are, states White, described in Tantric literature of Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as the Buddhist Sāmaññaphalasutta; James Mallinson, however, disagrees and suggests that such fringe practices are far removed from the mainstream Yoga’s goal as meditation-driven means to liberation in Indian religions.