The objective of yoga can be interpreted in physical, psychological, as well as spiritual ways because it deals with body, mind and spirit. The physical interpretation is connected with the preliminary objective of yoga; the psychological interpretation embraces the intermediate objective, while the spiritual interpretation emulates the highest objective.
There are several levels of development along the path of yoga. An aspirant has to attain these levels in turn and step by step. Starting from the lowest level, he, or she has to proceed gradually, mastering the preliminary and intermediate levels and finally reaching the highest one. As a person masters one level, he or she shifts goals to the next level. Moreover, as the aspirant approaches a particular level, he or she also finds the necessary means to cover the distance to the next higher level.
During such step-by-step advancement, a person goes on fixing higher and higher objectives for him or himself, from the preliminary to the intermediary, and from the intermediary to the final objective. In this manner, he or she goes on shifting objectives, each time focusing on a different but quite modest objective that may remain within grasp. One does not suddenly jump to a lofty objective that may be beyond reach for the time being. One proceeds gradually, level by level, until finally the distant goal of liberation is reached.
The preliminary objective of yoga is to improve body health and physical abilities. It is through physical soundness and stability that mental prowess can be achieved. Thereafter, the intermediary objective of yoga is to bring a greater degree of harmony between one’s thoughts, emotions, desires, aims, motives, reasoning etc. Through that coalescence it is possible to discover the hidden potentials of the mind. It is by way of unfolding potential mental powers that one can become aware of the inner spirit.
To whatever degree one may develop physical abilities and mental powers; one remains incomplete without spiritual growth. It is through spiritual development that a person realizes one’s whole being and becomes perfect. Such spiritual growth is the ultimate objective of yoga. In order to attain the final goal of yoga, one first has to realize the inner spirit and then to merge the atman (individual spirit) with the Brahman (universal spirit), while still in this body. Thus it can be said that the overall objective of yoga is to aid and guide a person to transcend one’s temporal limitations and to break the barriers that separate one’s individual self from the universal self.