During one of the class I taught last week, I had a very surprising question come from a new participant. What is Realization? After practicing Yoga for nearly 30 years and teaching for over 7 years, it is a given that I understand what Realization is. Realization (or Self-) is what Yoga is all about. It is the evolution of man from a animalistic nature to his fullest potential. Many of us don’t get to be our fullest potential, but we make progress over our lifetime. Yoga helps in this process. How? The Eight arms of Ashtanga Yoga lay down this path. The first two are Yamas and Niyamas. These are basic rules one lives by such as Non-violence, truthfulness, non-greed, etc. These help define in one’s mind the rules/guidelines to follow. Asana and Pranayama define the method of control of one’s physical health. Pratyahara is the practice of withdrawal from one’s senses. Dhyana, Dharana and Samadhi are a series of progression of further controlling the mind, that is a monkey if left unrestrained. As one learns the eight paths, he or she will know the difference one can attain by practicing Yoga; here Yoga is a way of life not just Hatha Yoga which is purely physical. Going beyond the eight limbs, when one studies the Chakras or the Energy Centers, he or she can relate the succession of progress one attains as he or she understands what each of the chakras mean. For example, the lowest Chakra (of the higher seven) is the mooladhara chakra, or the root chakra. This denotes the fact that the potential in a human being lies hidden at the root chakra which unless released keeps man at the highest level an animal can reach which is reproduction. Reproduction is something animals can by thought repeat – they don’t will empathy on a consistent basis. As the potential is realised from the root chakra through the higher centers, the qualities that are necessary for Self-realization become evident. The ability to forget and forgive (Swadishthana Chakra); the ability to create something else (dynamisn, Manipura chakra), the ability to love and emote (Anahatha), the ability to articulate (Vishudhi), the ability to assimilate knowledge into wisdom (Ajna) and full realization (Sahasrara). Self-realization isn’t something esoteric achievable by only a few. Many are self-realized without know the technicalities; many are ignorant and hence not realized fully. These can benefit by the practice of Yoga.