22 June 2020

A simple introduction to Ashtanga Yoga….

Ashtanga yoga as we popularly have heard about, is an amazing theory propounded by our ancestors in India. Patanjali, who is considered to be a pioneer in yoga, has given eight limbs or steps to become yogi… Let us have some quick look on all of them,

1. Yama – which is basically a set of ethical rules and regulations to be followed by the individual. It includes certain methods like,

a) Ahimsa – i.e. non-violence, or the active of not harming any fellow living creature.
b)Satya – truthfulness/not following falsehood.
c)Asteya – Act of not stealing anything from anyone.
d)Brahmacharya – This is commonly interpreted as having abstinence from sexual act/intercourse. But, the meaning of the word brahmacharya is much more than that. It includes following ones duties sincerely too and infact much more than that.
e)- Aparigraha – It is being in a state of non-possessiveness or to start having ng detachments from wordly pleasures which are not required for one’s existence.

If one follows these set of rules they have started on the path of being a true Yogi.

2. Niyama

a) Shoucha– Here cleanliness not only means that of the physical body, it can include clean speech, thoughts, emotions too. Like it is said, cleanliness must be kayika,vachika and manasika.
b) Santhosha– This doesn’t necessarily mean happiness. It is also achieving “bliss”. For those who are wondering what is the difference between happiness and bliss, latter is much more than happiness. Bliss is often achieved by the spiritual satisfaction within you.
c) Tapas – Tapas is generally taken as penance. The practical meaning of penance can be taken as the dedication with which one performs his/her duties; whether professional or personal. Devotion towards the responsibilities.
d) Swadhyaya – This can be analysed as study of Vedas and most importantly study of self.
e) Eshwarapranidhana– This is all about dedicating, surrendering or devoting yourself to the supreme being. The word “Eshwara” doesn’t necessarily mean lord Shiva alone. It collectively addresses any form of divinity as per our believes.

3. Asanas – this is defined as “sthira sukhan asanam” i.e. any position which is comfortable and which can be steady is called as asana. This can be achieved or perfected over a period of time with practice.

4. Pranayama – Here praana means breath and the word ayama means having contol/restraining. So in simple words it means having mastery over one’s breath. Our breaths sustain life in a body and hence gets very important to be aware of it. It is done in many ways.

5. Pratyahara – This term simply means turning inward. From here all further steps of yoga aims at knowing the higher consciousness. In this step, we draw all Indriyas (sense organs) and mind from materialistic stuff and direct them deep within us. It is not just about physically closing our eyes or ears to not take the outside stimulations. It is about drawing our awareness within us.

6. Dharana – Dharana deals with the aspect of pin pointing the focus of mind on the inner state. This also involves the practice of not drifting from one topic/thought to the other. Here, mind is fixed on one thought or dirty, any mantra etc without deviation.

7. Dhyana – This is a sort of continuation of dharana. In dharana we had concentrated or pin pointed on one particular thing. Dhyana goes one step further and here it helps us analyse that point of focus in detail. There is a continuous flow of awareness and knowledge about that topic on which one has concentrated in the previous step. This process of continuous analysis about the topic must not be interrupted by other thoughts.

8. Samadhi – This word literally means achieving oneness. It is about being one with the subject/topic of meditation which we have been contemplating upon in the previous States of yoga. Here the mind looses it’s own identity to become United with the subject of thought. And this is the ultimate goal of the soul after passing through the tough process of the yoga.

The dept of this subject is never ending….. Yoga is perhaps much more than just exercising… It is the way of life…. Reaching the eight stage of yoga i.e. the samdhi is easier said than done.. But, I think it can be a great spiritual journey to start with the steps !!!!

Happy time !!! Stay tuned !!!!

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