Yoga is a family of spiritual practices relating to Buddhism. Today seeing a lot of people performing yoga exercises and meditation in order to attain enlightenment is a common practice in India. There is a very wide range of yoga styles however the most widespread are such as the following: Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga.
First of all yoga is a set of spiritual practices while in the West yoga is often concerned with physical exercises and meditations. These exercises along with meditations help remove stress by calming the nervous system and balancing the body, mind and spirit. It is believed that the body is full of energy meridians and some of them may be locked because of a disease. Yoga helps unlock them.
Meditation is a key in the yoga practice. Meditation has been successfully used to reduce blood pressure, remove stress and improve coordination, concentration, flexibility, sleep and digestion. Yoga is often used as a supplementary therapy to prevent cancer, asthma, diabetes and other diseases. A spiritual yoga comprises traditional elements inherited from Hinduism such as ethical and moral principles, postures "asanas" to keep the body in shape, spiritual philosophy, reading mantras, controlling breath and stilling the mind with the help of meditation.
These key elements in spiritual yoga are sometimes adapted to meet the requirements of westerners who are not oriented in Hinduism. The purposes of yoga can be very different since there are many concepts of God depending on a religion. Thus in Hinduism yoga helps the practitioners to get closer to God and to attain spiritual union with God. In Buddhism the situation is quite difference since there is no concept of God-creator here. Buddhism followers practice yoga to deepen their wisdom, insight and compassion. From mental yoga benefits for westerners we can distinguish reaching the state of wisdom by the search for meaning in self and integration of the different aspects of a human being.
One of mental yoga benefits is that it helps attain self-realization or god-realization through spiritual practices. However one of the biggest mental yoga benefits is that it helps to achieve the state of liberation from worldly suffering, for some long-term Buddhist practitioners it is possible to break the cycle of birth and death (this state is called "Samsara").
Mental yoga mastership allows control of the mind, body, emotional self and cultivates transcendence over desire. One the most important mental yoga benefits is that it leads to knowledge of the true nature of reality. The highest phase in yoga is enlightenment when two natures unite and there is no difference between an individual soul and the supreme reality (God). An average yoga practitioner can be of course far away from enlightenment since it requires a great devotion to spiritual practices and rejection of the material world however any person can make use of spiritual yoga benefits such as the cultivation of compassion and insight.