The final question I wish to address has to do with the end of the two texts: if a person practices yoga as understood by Patañjali, or meditation as taught by Ignatius, and if she or he reaches a fairly advanced state (by effort, by grace) — then what kind of person is this, and how does she or he live? Do Ignatius and Patañjali produce very different kinds of persons?
One of the things that most attracts people to yoga, I think, is that it is wholesome, challenging, and able to bring a deep sense of well-being to body, mind, and spirit — all without seeming to impose an alien worship on the practitioner. Even in the ancient Indian traditions, and certainly now in America, it has always seemed possible to practice yoga and at the same time maintain, even deepen, our original and continuing faith commitments. But at the same time, this very point is a source of worry for others, since yoga seems blithely unconcerned about matters of religion: as if its energies were elsewhere, making religious commitment seem not so much a problem, as simply optional. If yoga is a powerful religious system, shouldn’t it conflict in a more direct way with Christian commitment? Or are we missing something?
Yoga is extremely supple in its ability to take on various rationales -- nondualist, devotional, health-oriented, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. -- and my impression is that even expert teachers of disciplined yoga practice are rather fluid -- sometimes unhelpfully vague -- in their explanations as to what it is all for. The Sutras help pin down a succinct attitude toward the practice and its purpose.