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Ashtanga Yoga

Yoga is an art , a science and a philosophy. It touches the life of man at every level, physical, mental and spiritual. It is a practical method for making one’s life purposeful, useful and noble. Yoga alone enables the practitioner to perceive and experience the world within and around himself, to touch the divine wealth and happiness with his fellow beings. The Yog Sutras of Patanjali are concise and compact. Patanjali shows the initiated as well as the uninitiated, the intelligent and the unintelligent, ways of adopting the principles of yoga and adopting it’s techniques, of plumbing each sutra so that one may grasp it with integrity, purity and divinity. In Sanskrit “Ashta + anga” is ashtanga. “Ashta” means Eight and “Anga” is limbs so it means Eight Limb path,

EIGHT LIMBS OF ASHTANGA YOGA

1) Yama (Principles or moral code)

Ahimsa – A principle of non-violence
Satya – A principle of Truthfulness
Asteya – A principle of non stealing
Brahmacharya – Continence / Celibacy
Aparigah – A principle of non-hoarding or non possessiveness

It is essential they be observed and followed. They are to be practiced individually and collectively irrespective of lineage, place, time, condition or career. The yamas are mighty universal vows, says Patanjali.

2) Niyama (Personal Disciplines)

Shoucha – Purity
Santosh – Contentment
Tapa – Endurance
Swadhyaya – Study of sacred scriptures and of ones own self
Eshwar Pranidhan – Surrender of the self to God

The five niyamas are to be followed not merely as individual but also as spiritual discipline. The first yama is a direct method of purification; the second niyama an indirect method of appeasement. Patanjali suggests that both should be followed to speed progress.

3) Asana (Yoga Positions or Yogic Postures)

Asana is the positioning of the body as a whole with the involvement of the mind and soul. Asanas has two facets, pose and repose Pose is the artistic assumption of a position. Reposing in the pose means finding the perfection of a pose and maintaining it, reflecting in it with penetration of the intelligence and with dedication. When the seeker is closer to the soul, the asanas come with instantaneous extension, repose and pose.

4) Pranayama (Yogic Breathing)

The practice of pranayama removes the veil of ignorance covering the light of intelligence and makes the mind a fit instrument to embark on meditation for the vision of the soul. This is spiritual quest.

5) Pratyahara (Withdrawal of Senses)

When the mind becomes ripe for meditation the senses rest quitely and stop importuning the mind for their gratification. Then the mind, which hitherto acted as a bridge between the senses and the soul, frees itself from the senses and turns toward the soul to enjoy it’s spiritual heights.

6) Dharana (Concentration on Object)

Dharana means focus of attention. Focusing the attention on chosen point of area within or outside the body is concentration. dharana may be focused on external or internal objects. External objects should be auspicious and associated with purity. Internally, the mind penetrate to the soul, the core of one’s being: the object is, in reality, pure existence.

7) Dhyan (Meditation)

The characteristic feature of meditation is the maintenance of an uninterrupted flow of attention on a fixed point of region, without intervention or interruption. In Dhyana, psychological and chronological time come to a standstill as the mind observes its own behavior.

8) Samadhi (Salvation)

When the attentive flow of consciousness merges with the object of meditation the consciousness of the person who meditating, the subject appears to be dissolved in the object. This union of subject and object becomes Samadhi.