Yoga-sutras of Patanjali comprise the essence of yoga practice. However, yoga itself is a deep and serious process, and there are a variety of forms of yoga that can be performed. There are four main types of yoga. There is:
Jnana-yoga, the path of intellectual development and understanding what is real and what is not.
Karma-yoga is the path of right action, detachment from the fruits of one=s labor, and dedicating our activities for a higher and spiritual purpose.
Astanga or Raja-yoga is the path of inward meditation and the attainment of higher states of consciousness through various practices.
Bhakti-yoga is the path of raising our consciousness, and developing our devotion love for God and decreasing our attraction for the various aspects of the temporary material energy. There are additional forms of yoga, but they are often considered branches of these four paths. However, in the preliminary stages, yoga is, essentially, for controlling the flickering nature of the mind, and for developing one’s finer qualities and expanding one’s consciousness from material to spiritual awareness. It is explained that Yoga is the process of completely calming the movements of the mind, which include perceived knowledge, misconception, imagination, sleep, and memory. When these are stabilized, then it can be called yoga which offers the opportunity for the seer to become established in his own essential and fundamental nature. Yoga is the attempt to realign our Selves with the Supreme Self, God.
When you progress in yoga you can feel the unwanted burdens of the mind fall away, such as anxiety, anger, greed, envy, hate, discontent, etc. Then other qualities like peacefulness, tranquility, contentment, and blissfulness will be felt. These are qualities everyone is trying to find and are some of the many things that can be accomplished with yoga, at least on the elementary level. As you make further progress, you may enter into the deeper levels of understanding and transcending the mind and gradually go so far as to attain realizations as to what your own spiritual identity is and what your relationship is with the Absolute. Becoming free from material life and regaining one=s spiritual identity is the goal of all yoga.
The Sanskrit root of the word yoga is yuj, which means to link or unite with the Supreme. And the word religion, which comes from the Latin word religion, means to bring back or bind to God. Thus, there is no difference between the goal of yoga and the goal of religion.