The art and science involved in constructing the union of body, mind and soul as termed as Yoga.Its mainly objectives are to bring a harmony of breath and heartbeat, to open the third eye to perceive yourself as a part of the whole creation, to bring back the peace of mind and stability of health and prosper with calmness in every life situations.Patanjali Yoga Sutras were written around 200 AD to describe this art of living and to illustrate various methods for practising perfectly.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra describes an eight-limbed path or astanga for yogic practices.When a person completes all the eight limbs, he becomes a self-conscience person,can differentiate reality from illusion, his mind shows no reaction to events happening around him as it is always attached with the eternal consciousness.
All the eight limbs follow hierarchical order and are as follows-
Yama : Universal morality
Niyama : Personal observances
Asanas : Body postures
Pranayama : Control of Prana
Pratyahara : Control of the senses
Dharana : Cultivating inner awareness
Dhyana : Meditation on the Divine
Samadhi : Union with the Divine
I.Yama (Universal Morality) and II. Niyama (Personal observances)
Yama and Niyama describe how we should interact with people and objects around us, how our attitude should be in dealing with them in daily life. Yama specially refers to our behavoiurs with outer objects while Niyama refers to the effect we can relate to our own self.It thus also touches upon action and reaction of an act.
Yama can be broadly classified into five points-
- Ahimsa-compassion for livings forms.
- Satya-honesty and truthfulness in all situations.
- Asteya-no mischievous means to snatch other things or non-stealing.
- Brahmacharya- not forming any relationship for fulfillment of desires.
- Aparigraha-suppressing the desires to acquire wealth and leading a lavishing life.
The five points of Niyama are-
- Sauca – Purity and cleanliness both inner and outer part.
- Santosa – Contentment and peacefulness with everything you have
- Tapas – Disciplined use of our energy to keep yourself fit
- Svadhyaya – Self study or asking yourself for the answer to the questions that trouble your mind
- Isvarapranidhana – Celebration and Devoting oneself in the spiritual activities
III. Asanas (Body postures)
Asana refers to the physical postures for yoga and meditation.The posture determines the path of flow of energy in your body and thus it is of immense importance.It controls all aspects such as emotions, concentration,unity and faith between your body and the ethereal body.Finding the best posture is an uphill task to begin with.A comfortable posture must be found out before beginning further activities as otherwise it could lead to several distractions.There must be a complete understanding between your body,your energy and your posture.
IV.Pranayama (Control of Prana)
Pranayama is the act of intake and out flow of breath in some harmony and rhythm. Prana is the life giving energy that resides in every being.It is responsible for maintaining good health,its stability is important for concentration and gaining upper hand on distractions.By controlling the breath,we balance the flow of vital energy and direct them to our chakra system from our bottom right up to the crown chakra at the back of the head.It is the highest form of purification of mind and soul and even some aliments in the body.
V.Pratyahara (Control of the Senses)
Pratyahara is the act of retreating your senses from that which excites them. In other words, it means no reaction to outside occurrence or non-attachment to outer objects while on the path of self-realization. It will bring natural calmness in you and you can experience the joy of inner peacefulness.It occurs naturally once your start practicing pranayama and stabilize your breathing process in a rhythmic way. Thus it leads to greater concentration and you start feeling a separation between your mind and senses.You become less emotional in unexpected circumstances.
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VI. Dharana (cultivating inner awareness)
Dharana is the act of holding focus of attention in one direction. Once the mind is purified by pranayama,body is cleaned by asana and the senses are taken into control by pratyahara, the mind is completely absorbed in one focal point to perceive the universal form of consciousness.
VII. Dhyana (Meditation on the Divine)
Dhyana is an act of contemplation with the intention of finding the ultimate truth.By now our body,breath,senses, mind, reason and ego all unite to form a perfect Universal spirit to perceive the Universal truth of life and existence.The fear of death vanishes once the truth is unveiled.This state is referred to as Moksha.
VIII. Samadhi (Union with the Divine)
The final step in the eight-fold path of Yoga is the attainment of Samadhi.This is the end of the separation.The distinction between self and other objects dissolves.The joy of union with the Divine can only be experienced.