In the most significant work of his Patanjali describes the aim of Yoga as the attempt to gain the knowledge of self and draw eight steps, called the Ashtanga Yog, for achieving it. They are:
* Yog Asanas
Yamas are the first and foremost component of Ashtanga yoga that forms the basic foundation for others. They are the set guidelines for us to follow as to become more socially disciplined in terms of our relations with our outer environment.
Different Indian Scholars of Yoga have propounded a different set of yamas with varying numbers. This number of yamas is based on their own philosophies and their experiments with human life. But the most accepted and reputed scholar of all, Patanjali has described only five yamas in his very famous text Yoga Sutra. They are:
1. Ahimsa (non-violence). It's about our non-violent attitude in thought, speech and action. It promotes compassion, love, understanding, patience and worthiness among humans and nature.
2. Satya (truthfulness). It focuses on human behavior where one act exactly the way he thinks in his mind, say the same in his speech and replicate it exact in his action. It's, actually, about being true to our own self in every sense of understanding.
3. Astelya (non-stealing). It upholds the development of a sense of self-sufficiency and to fight covetousness and greed.
4. Brahamcharya (celibacy). It corresponds to the behavior that brings men nearer to divine whereby they avoid all the mental or physical or meta-physical sensual pleasure.
5. Aprigraha (non-covetousness). It's about detachment from all our covetousness and abstaining from committing violence of any sort.
Next step to the Ashtanga Yoga are niyamas. It deals with our inner world and, like yamas, their numbers have been varying in different schools of thoughts but Patanjali gave the well-known and established set of five guidelines, which encourages us to lead our lives with the most positive attitude and be in peace with our soul. The five niyamas are:
1. Saucha (purity). The practice, which helps us to purify ourselves internally as well as externally. It makes our mind pure in thoughts and action.
2. Santosh (contentment). It is described as the ability to satisfy our needs in the minimum and not desire for more than what we deserve. Maintaining peace and gratitude in mind in all the situations is the essence of this niyama.
3. Tapa (austerity). The ability to stand against all the harsh realities of life and come out stronger every time we face challenges.
4. Swadhyaya (self-education). To study our ancient texts such as Vedas and Upanishad scripts and reciting all the mantras inscribed in them.
5. Ishwar-Pranidhan (Divine meditation). It's the description of our efforts to get closer to the divine through our actions and by dedicated concentration of mind we can achieve that.
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After the very important part of Yoga Asanas and Pranayamas, Pratyaharas help manage your senses and practice meditation and go beyond the consciousness to the unconsciousness level from where the other components of Yoga play their part in the achieving the ultimate goal of these exercise.
The process of meditating and concentrating hard to achieve the level of directing our mind and thoughts begins with Dharnas. Here we start concentrating hard on imaginative circles or chakras going away and coming out with eyes closed.
It's the state of meditation where you work hard to improve your concentration without getting distracted.
The final step to achieve what is called the ultimate desire, Moksha, of all living beings is Samadhi. Here the ability of our mind helps us unite our true self with what is our object of perception. We reach the pinnacle of the complete Yoga process to achieve a state where our soul meets with the universal soul.
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