Ashtanga Yoga - (Eight Limbi.e Eight Part)
Introduction to Ashtanga Yoga:- In Sanskrit "Ashta + anga" is Ashtanga. "Ashta" means eight
and "Anga" is limbs so it means Eight Limb path, ashtanga yoga is based on Yoga Philosophy
of Patanjali. The asanas, Pranayamas or the dharana which we have studied earlier or the yam
and niyam are based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Hence, we will acquaint ourselves with
the fundamentals as stated by Patanjali first.
History of Ashtanga Yoga
Yoga has its roots about 5000 years BC as described in Vedic Philosophy and Tantras.
Patanjali , great sage composed this path into a Darshan(Philosophy) in his Book Patanjal
Yoga Sutra. In which he has formulated Yoga as a Eight Limbs or Eight Fold path.
Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga –
1. Yama (Principles or moral code)
1. Ahimsa - A principle of non-violence
2. Satya - A principle of Truthfulness
3. Asteya - A principle of non stealing
4. Brahmacharya - Continence / celibacy
5. Aparigah - A principle of non-hoarding or non possessiveness
2 Niyama (Personal Disciplines)
1. Shoucha – Purity
2. Santosh – Contentment
3. Tapa – Endurance
4. Swadhyaya- Self study
5. Eshwar Pranidhan- Dedication
3. Asana- (Yoga Postures / positions) A stable and comfortable posture which helps attain
4. Pranayama- (Yoga Breathing) Extension and control of breath.
5. Pratyahara- (Withdrawal of Senses) A mental preparation to increase the power of mind.
6. Dharana- (Concentration on Object) Concentration of mind on one object and its field.
7. Dhyan- (Meditation) with drawing mind from all external objects and focusing it on
one point and meditating on it.
State of Super bliss, joy and merging individual consciousness in to universal consciousness.
Union between Jivatman and Paramatman. Union of Shiva and Shakti in Sahasrar Chakra (the
top of the head). Realizing the Bramhan (pure consciousness) or Realization of God is the
ultimate achievement of Human Birth.
The science of Yoga considers every aspect of human life. While considering an individual,
Yoga has thought of both the body as well as the mind. As an individual is a subject belonging
to the society, Yoga as a science, has considered the society as well. Though, this science
maintains that a seeker has to shun all his requirements and pursue the sadhana in a remote
place like a cave in a mountain, to achieve the ultimate goal of Samadhi, it has also admitted
that such a seeker is basically a common human being. Like all others, he too has his own
requirements. Apart from food, clothing and shelter, he too needs company and wants to live
in a society. In fact, he relates and reacts to the society emotionally. The yoga intends to
teach sadhana to such a common human being and leads him to the samadhi. Accepting this
as a basis, the eight stages of progress are defined in the science of yoga, state Yam and
Niyam as the first two stages. Yam and Niyam are the first two aspects of the eightfold Yoga.
Rishi Patanjali has mentioned this in the second pada, Sadhana Pada in the following
Yamniyamsanpranayampratyahardharanadhyansamadhayoshtavangani || P
Y S 2.29
The third and the fourth steps in Yoga are Asanas and Pranayam. Yam and Niyam come
before that. That also shows that the starting point of Yoga studies is not Asanas and
Pranayam, but the study of Yam and Niyam. If one starts the study of Yoga ignoring these
Yam and Niyam, he will not be in a position to experience the results of the studies as
expected. Hence, to seek the desired results from the Yoga Studies, these Yam and Niyam
should be faithfully observed. One cannot negotiate in this aspect. If the Yam and Niyam are
not observed fully, the benefits of the studies will also fail to accrue fully. This is true
regarding any science.
We can take the example of the electricity which is used daily. To use the electric power, one
has to install wiring as per the defined rules. One has to use the electricity conductors and the
chokes. One has to apply to the electricity board, pay the required amount, install the meter
and in general observe the rules and regulations. Failure to observe the rules will result in
loss of connection. It may also lead to accidents due to electric shocks. People generally do
not say that they should be able to use the electric power without observing the rules. In fact,
one will be laughed at if one says like that. And even if one insists on doing that, he will have
to suffer the results. However, in the case of Yoga, many ask why the Yam and Niyam are to
be observed. What will happen if they are not observed? How the benefits of the asanas and
Pranayam study will depend on the observance of Yam and Niyam? Can one not study Yoga
without observing Yam and Niyam? However, a simple answer to all these questions is if one
studies Yoga and Pranayam without observing Yam and Niyam, one would not get the
Uptill now, it is stated that Yam and Niyam are conditions or restrictions. It is stated in that
manner so that the meaning can be easily grasped. However, Yam and Niyam are not
actually restrictions, but freedom from restrictions. Ordinary common people do not
understand what are restrictions and what is the freedom from the restrictions. Yoga starts
with freedom from such restrictions. In our daily life, we ourselves impose certain restrictions.
Certain restrictions arise due to our karma. The study of Yam and Niyam is in reality freedom
from such restrictions.
There are five Yam and five Niyam. Patanjal Yoga has described these Yam and Niyam.
However, Hathapradeepika has described ten Yam and ten Niyam. Yam direct about how a
common man should behave in the society, whereas Niyam guide regarding the individual
behaviour. Niyam follow Yam, which are stated in the beginning. That means the points to be
observed while being in society are given first and then the points about the personal
behaviour. This also indicates that the Yoga has considered the society first and then the
individual. The science of Yoga, which stresses on renunciation and sadhaka staying away
from the society, has given a clear-cut guidance about how an individual should behave in the
To start a detailed study of the Yam and Niyam, first we shall consider the Patanjal Yoga
Aphorisms and then consider the Hathapradeepika. Stating the eight aspects of Yoga in the
29th aphorism, the next aphorism describes Yam:
Tatrahimsasatyasteyabrahmacharyaparigraha yamh || P Y S 2.30
Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya and Aparigraha are the five Yam. The text does not
describe them further, but we will go in detail.
Ahimsa (Non Violence):
Ahimsa means not to kill anyone. Killing generates pain; hence ahimsa can mean not to
cause pain to anyone. Yoga demands ahimsa in totality. That means, himsa does not mean
only killing or hitting anyone. That is a limited meaning of the word or only physical aspect.
To hurt someone mentally is also a himsa. That is oral himsa. Yoga also states further that
even thinking ill of someone is also a himsa, which is a mental himsa. Hence, ahimsa covers all
aspects such as physical, oral, mental. This indicates the greatness of the depth of the science of
yoga. Patanjal Yoga aphorism states the results of following such ahimsa:
Ahimsa pratishthayam tatsannidhou vairatyagah || P Y S 2-35
One, who observes ahimsa, succeeds in eliminating feelings of enmity. If ahimsa is followed
for a long time, not only the sadhaka, but even his surroundings are affected and enmity is
eliminated in the minds of all who come in contact with him. Thus, ahimsa is not only
elimination of physical, mental, oral hurt, but also wiping out the feelings of enmity. The
surroundings of such a sadhaka are also changed effectively. Thus, for Yoga studies such high
degree ahimsa is prescribed. However, not all Yoga Sadhakas aspire for samadhi. Their
expectations from the yoga studies are limited. From their point of view such great ahimsa may
not be able to be observed continuously. Hence, in day- to-day life it should be considered how
far such ahimsa is to be observed. A common man may not be able to follow ahimsa in
entirety. If we consider the example of fishermen, their basic activity is fishing from the seaand
sale of the produce. If he decides to follow the principle, he will not be able to carry on his
daily activity. Hence, for him, he may not be able to follow the principle of ahimsa and he is
not expected also to follow it. However, those who desire to progress further in Yoga should
shun all such activities. Initially, one may not be able to observe total ahimsa. However, one
should constantly keep the definition of ahimsa in mind and try to follow it. All the activities
should be analysed in the mind to determine what kind of himsa, physical, oral, mental arises
from one's activity. After analysis, it may be found that at times, certain activities generate
himsa, which can be easily avoided. Then the mind and the body can be trained to avoid such
activity. Such training is the first step towards following ahimsa entirely.
Satya should also be considered in depth. It does not only cover speaking the truth. Proper
understanding of the talk and the mind is the truth. Here, proper means exactly what is seen,
understood or heard, the same thing should be followed by our tendency to talk and also by
the mind. When we try to explain something to others, the conversation if it generates doubts
or if it is not understood correctly by others, or if it is of no use to others, then that is not truth,
even if it is true. Also, God has created our tongue for the benefit of all and not for destruction.
So the truth, which results in the destruction of someone or something, is also not the truth.
Mahabharata has analysed and classified the truth as under: Silence is greater than the
speech, true speech is greater than the silence, speech as per one's dharma is greater than it
and the true speech according to dharma and which is pleasurable and useful to others is the
Patanjali Rishi has stated the results of the truth as under:
Satyapratishthayam kriyaphalashrayatvam || P Y S 2-36
With constant following of the truth and the commensurate behaviour, one gets vachasiddhi.
That means without performing any religious rites, the results of the karma accrue to him and
to others due to his speech and blessings.
Steya means theft. Asteya means not stealing anything. However, asteya has a comprehensive
meaning and is not limited to not stealing something from the other and keeping it in
possession. It means not keeping anything with self, which does not belong to the self. If one
finds something lying on the street and picks it up thinking that no one has seen him and since
that was lying on the street, some one is bound to pick it up, then why not me, then that is also
a theft. Picking up or possessing something, which does not have any owner, is also a theft.
When one sees some money lying on the deserted street, there is a desire to pick it up.
However, then the conscience starts pricking one that the money does not belong to him and
hence should not be picked up. The other mind says that why not pick it up, if not me, someone
else is bound to pick it up. The battle of the two minds starts increasing the heartbeats. If the
bad conscience wins, then the intelligence propels the body to pick it up. But yet the good
conscience keeps on advising against it. The money is picked up, but only after losing the
calmness of the mind and after increasing the heart beats. There is an increasing pressure on the
mind even after the money is picked up. The mind is disturbed; there is no concentration in
work. When this becomes unbearable, one decides to donate the money somewhere, which will
reduce the disturbance to some extent. Again while depositing the money in a temple or at
some religious place, the heartbeats increase imagining the questions that may be raised by
someone else. When ultimately it is deposited and one is free, the mind becomes calm and
quiet and the pressure disappears. This process can be viewed in start of theft.
The pressure generated in the process does have bad effects on the body and the internal
glands. If asteya is observed, the body and the mind do not have to undergo such strain. This is
the meaning and conclusion of asteya. This is an effect of the actual physical process of theft.
But even if a thought of the theft peeps into the mind, it can affect the mental and thereby the
physical health. If the electronic impulses generated through the brain are m easured with the
help of a machine, it is observed that there are wide changes while being in such a state. Hence,
yoga states that one should not even imagine the theft. The following aphorism states the
Asteyapratishthayam sarvratnopasthanam || P Y S 2.37
A sadhaka is endowed with all jewels (virtues) when he practises asteya.
Brahmacharya (Sexual Continence):
Yoga sadhaka should follow continence, but this does not mean that he should renounce family
life and become a monk; such an action is not expected in Yoga science. When a sadhaka
progresses on the path of Yoga, on his own he feels that he should renounce the worldly
activities and he will be free from all desires and hence can easily study dhyana and
dharana. However, all of us need not follow this path. So we need not stretch the meaning of
continence to this level. Controlled enjoyment of desires, staying within the limit of dharma
and science can be termed as continence. If we understand this meaning and behave
accordingly, we will be able to progress in Yoga. Due to uncontrolled behaviour, we are more
restricted. Desires, their fulfillment and enjoyment do have a place in the family life, but there
should be some limit. It is we who should control the desires and not desires controlling us.
Once the desires start ruling us, we lose our freedom. If the desires are not fulfilled, then we
lose our mental and physical well being. If observing such continence seems difficult initially,
when we think deeply about it, it is not so difficult as it seems. However, one has to make an
effort. One should deliberately avoid consumption of items, which increase the desire or
reading material, which excites the feelings. Old religious texts have detailed clarification on
this point. One who has renounced worldly matters, should abstain himself from the following
matters and one who is following family life should avoid the following with other women
excluding his wife:
1. Thinking about her in the mind
2. Hearing stories about her
3. Conversing with her
4. Seeing her
5. Smiling with or at her.
6. Conversing with her alone.
7. Touching her
8. Making love to her
However, in today's world avoiding all these, one may not be able to live. Hence, instead of
literally following the instructions, one should try to understand the logic behind it. If such
desires are not controlled and not fulfilled, they can prove harmful to the mind and the body.
To avoid this, one must follow continence.
Patanjali Rishi has stated the following aphorism:
Brahmacharyapratishthayam viryalabhah || P Y S 2.38
One who observes continence, gets illuminated and acquires various siddhis.
Aparigrah (Non possessiveness):
Aparigrah means not hoarding anything. Storing things, which are not required by us, is
known as parigrah. For example: If we are thirsty, we can quench the thirst after drinking a
glass of water. Even if one brings a pot full of water, the thirst gets quenched with a glass
only. But this gives rise to other problems. First to bring pot full of water, one has to search for
so much water as well as for a pot. One has to run around to get these things. To bring water
also, one has to put in some efforts. Even after the thirst is quenched, there remains a
question as to what is to be done of the remaining water. Where it should be kept, how long
the water will remain pure, efforts to keep it safely, all these problems arise thereby increasing
the mental and physical strain. If one quenches his thirst by drinking water using his hands,
then all these problems do not arise at all. This results in saving all the efforts. This example
can be applied to other matters too. We can also say that when we are able to satisfy our
hunger by eating the various bulbs and fruits grown by the nature, why do we strive so much?
In fact, it is not essential. But yet we strive to grow food crops, and put in a lot of efforts to
process them afterwards. To make up for all these efforts, we go on eating more. This circle
continues endlessly. Yoga aims at not giving rise to such circles at all. We should enjoy only
what is necessary and that too in a controlled manner. Not to store or hoard the things is
Of course, we should think about this by using common sense. To observe aparigrah, one
should not run behind acquiring things, which are not necessary. The point is illustrated by a
common example. We have food when we are hungry, to satisfy the hunger. Even when the
hunger is satisfied, sometimes we tend to eat more, just because we like the taste and it
satisfies the tongue. When we consume such excess, it affects the body harmfully. The food
does not get digested well and then diseases such as non-digestion, constipation etc arises. If
we consume only the necessary amount, then we do not have to suffer. Hence, yoga sadhaka
should try to follow aparigraha with efforts. The results are described as follows:
Aparigrahsthiarye janmakathantasambodhah || P Y S 2.39
One who learns and follows aparigraha in entirety gets the knowledge of past, present and
future. He also knows about his past birth. After describing the five niyam in this way,
Patanjali has stated the following aphorism:
Jatideshkalsamayanavachinnah sarvabhouma mahavatrah | P Y S 2.31
Yogi should religiously follow the five yams. When the yams are to be followed, it is stated in
this aphorism that they are to be followed irrespective of caste, country, period, time etc.
Yoga states that these yams should be followed by all castes, all over the country in any place
and at whatever period and time. Rishi Patanjali in the Ashtangyoga has given five yams, but
Hathapradeepikkar in their texthave stated ten yams. The basic principles are the same,
however the description is a little bit different. The following ten yams are stated in
Ahimsa Satyamsteyam brahmacharyam kshama dhrutih ||
Dayarjavam mitaharh shoucham chaiva yama dash || H P
Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Kshama, Dhruti, Daya, Arjav, Mitahar and Shoucha.
We have already reviewed Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya and Brahmacharya. Shoucha is included in
Niyama, so we will consider the rest of the Yama.
Kshama is a big virtue. Common people err quite a few times, which hurts or proves
troublesome for others. Then the others react by getting angry. Again the reaction is met with
another reaction. In this process, the calmness of the body and the mind gets lost. Hence, the
yoga sadhaka should not resist or react against the improper attitude of another or some
mistake committed by another. Resistance leads to further disputes and the results are to be
faced by everyone. Kshama from the point of view of sadhaka is not reacting or not resisting.
Because of this sadhaka does not have to face the disturbances, which arise out of such
resistance. Also, when there is mental as well as physical preparation for not reacting, the
effect of the blow also gets reduced and the mind turns calm. Generally, when the people
realise the magnitude of the mental preparation, they also stay away from affecting any blows
on the sadhaka.
Dhruti means courage. It is essential for performing or achieving anything. If there is no
courage, great things cannot be achieved. In human life, there are several incidences where
one gets attacked by many emotions. We have to fight such feelings. Many lose courage
while doing so and fall prey to these feelings. They repent afterwards. So while leading the
life, whenever such incidents occur, one should have the courage to face the emotions and
gain victory over them. By turning away from such emotions does not solve any problems, but
While kshama is a reaction on any action, daya is not a reaction but an action itself. To assist
someone with sympathy is daya. Like ahimsa, daya is also physical, oral and mental. To help
someone with bodily actions or by giving money is physical action. To console someone by
sympathising with kind words is oral daya. And to think kindly in mind about the poor and
wishing them all the best in life is mental daya. Daya not only leads to peace of the body as
well as the mind, but also gives mental satisfaction
To behave humbly with everyone after casting aside the ego is aarjav. Casting aside of one's
ego is important. Many problems in our day-to-day life arise out of ego. When there is no ego,
there are no problems and one does not have to search for their solutions. When the ego is
forsaken, the heart, tongue and mind turn soft and simple. That is known as aarjav. It is
expected that sadhaka should be humble and modest. Due to this humble attitude, sadhaka
goes nearer to the God.
Mitahar (Restricted diet):
The body needs food, but many times we tend to consume more than necessary. Sometimes,
just because it tastes good to the tongue, sometimes due to the wish in the mind, or
sometimes just out of habit. Yoga sadhaka should make it a point to avoid such excess
consumption. The intake of such excess food affects the body in a harmful manner. The
physical health is also affected and the mental health too is lost. One should take the
necessary diet at proper times. This is known as mitahar.
The rules to be followed by a sadhaka in case of self are given by way of Niyam. The
following are the five Niyam:
Shouchasantoshtapah swadhyaeshwarpranidhanani niyamh | P Y S 2.32
We will consider each one separately.
1. Shoucha (Purity):
This means the purity. Like ahimsa, this purity is also physical, oral and mental. Physical
purity is again divided into two parts, outer and inner. Yoga has considered all types of purity
and given directions as to how to achieve it. However, Patanjal Yoga does not give detailed
description of this. But it is stated in detail in Hatha yoga. While considering outer purity,
Hathayoga describes many processes right from brushing the teeth. The specific powder
(churna) that should be used for cleaning the teeth is also mentioned under Shuddhikriya in
Hatha yoga. There are six types of shuddhikriyas for the internal purity. Dhouti, Basti, Neti,
Tratak, Nouli and Kapalbhati. We will study in detail all these six shuddhikriyas. Hence, they
are not discussed further over here. Just the statement that internal purity has been considered
in the minutest detail by yoga is enough.
For oral purity, yoga has given the message that one should not talk too much. Unnecessary
use of the tongue is to be avoided and following the yam should purify the tongue. Yoga has
accepted the inseparable relation of the body and the mind. Hence, each and every yogic
process affects the body as well as the mind. Also, for purifying the mind, there is a process
known as Trataka. We will consider it in detail afterwards.
The following aphorism states the result of the shoucha:
Shouchatswangjugupsa parairsansargh | P Y S 2.40
After purity is achieved by this process, sadhaka loses the feeling of the importance of the body
and does not wish to interact with the other bodies. When the sadhaka starts purifying the
body, he feels that the body is full of impurities and he feels disgusted about it. When such
feelings arise, he tries to avoid even the touch of the other and engages himself in his own
mental bliss. Patanjali has stated in another aphorism that:
Satvashuddhisoumansyekagredriyajayatmadarshan yogyatwani cha | P Y S
From the purification process, satvashuddhi, mental happiness, calm mind, victory over the
organs, and the plan to view the self (atma) are achieved.
2. Santosh (Contentment):
Contentment is also an important virtue. When we observe the never-ending efforts of all
creatures in their day-to-day lives, and think of the purpose behind it, we realise that all these
efforts are to gain mental contentment and peace. We try to derive the contentment from
outside matters. However, none is aware of the fact that the contentment does not depend
upon these outside matters. It is a state of mind. It is not a reaction of the mind on any
incident. Hence, it can be controlled irrespective of the incidents. Yoga with the use of this
word intends the hidden meaning that one should learn to be happy in what one gets. This
attitude will reduce pain and suffering in life. However, there should be mental preparation for
this. When this tendency to feel contented is adopted by the mind, the perpetual happiness is
not far behind. In fact the root of happiness lies in this tendency of the mind. And the root
cause of suffering is in Trishna (thirst). This trishna has been defined in one Sanskrit shloka
Asha nam manushyanamkachitdashwaryashrunkhala |
Yaya baddha pradha
Hope is such a chain that when tied with it, the creature starts running and when released from
it, the creature stands peacefully. Running behind the hope will lead to only pain and suffering.
Patanjali has given the following aphorism while describing the results of the contentment:
Santoshdanuttamsukhlabhah | P Y S 2.42
One who constantly learns to be contented, all his thirst gets weakened and the satva is
heightened. He gets the maximum happiness and feels that pleasures from heavens or even the
place of the God Indra is also nothing as compared to his own bliss.
3. Tapa (Endurance):
Tapa means to bear some trouble with a good intention. Even if there is some physical or
mental trouble, one should not discontinue his actions, but should continue them. This is
known as Tapa. While studying Yoga or practising some yogic process, there may be some
physical trouble. One should bear it happily and should pursue his studies. This is tapa. The
seventeenth chapter of Bhagwad Gita has described Tapa. There are three types of tapa:
Satwik, Rajas and Tamas. Tapa done with faith and without hoping for the fruits is Satwik.
That which is done for the expectation of status, felicitation etc is known as rajas tapa. And
tapa arising out of folly, with some trouble to the body and with the intention of creating
trouble for the others is tamas tapa. Patanjali has stated the results of the tapa in the following
Kayendriyasiddhirashuddhikshayatapas | P Y S 2.43
Ashuddhi is adharma. It is a tamas guna. It is impurity, which veils the siddhis such as
Anima. The daily practice and study of tapa , after its completion, removes all such
impurities. When ashuddhi or impurities are removed, then siddhis such as Anima, Mahima,
Lachima etc are obtained.
4. Swadhyaya (Self Study):
Ishwar gita while describing swadhyaya has stated that japa is swadhyaya. It includes both
shrawan and manan (listening and contemplation). Japa is of two types, oral and mental.
Again oral japa is of two types, audible - with loud chanting which can be heard by the others
and inaudible - whispers which cannot be heard by others. Mental japa is also of two types -
without dhyana and with dhyana. In all these japas, japa without dhyana is considered as the
best. In daily life of commoners, swadhyaya can be said to mean revision of what is taught.
The results of swadhyaya are as under:
Swadhyayadishtadevtasamprayogah | P Y S 2.44
While doing japa of a particular mantra, when an anushtan is completed, the goddess for
whom the japa is made becomes pleased with the sadhaka and appears before him. (known
5. Ishwar pranidhan (Worship with complete faith):
It means while believing in the existence of God and having faith in his greatness, completely
devoting oneself to Him without any expectations in return. There is some divine strength at
the root of this universe, which is beyond our imagination. To identify the divine strength and
to surrender one completely to it is ishwarpranidhan. There are nine types of devotions for
Shrawanam Kirtanam Vishnoh smaranat padsevanam |
Archanam Vandanam dasyam sakhyam atmanivedanam ||
At times, even after our persistent efforts, we are unable to succeed. At such a time, if we have
compassion of the God, the problem gets solved.
Samadhisiddhirishwarpranidhanat | P Y S 2.45
With Ishwarpranidhan, the siddhi of samadhi can be obtained. There are five niyam in Patanjal
Yoga. However, Hathapradeepika states ten niyam.
Tapahsantosh aastikyaam danamishwar poojanam |
Siddhantavakyashravanam hrimatich japo hutam ||
Niyama dash samprokta yogashastra vishardai || H P
The ten Niyama are:-
6. Siddhanta- Vakya shravan
We have considered Tapa, Santosh, Ishwarpujan and Japa. We will consider the remaining
6. Aastikya (Theism):
The firm belief in the existence of God is Aastikya. Everything in this unlimited universe
makes us realise the existence of God. But the need of the today is to understand this
realisation. The sloping tops of the hills, the giant trees seemingly point to the God. The
sounds of the flowing rivers from the mountains to the sea, the falling waterfalls, the
thunderous sound of the clouds in the rainy season all try to convey the existence of God with
their noise. The perfect order of this unlimited universe and the regulated motions of the
tiniest atoms, molecules, all these movements remind us of his existence. He has created the
provision of feeding the fetus in the womb and He has also created the provision of milk for
the newborn baby. To deny His existence is a way of showing one's ignorance. He is all
pervading. To perceive His all pervasion and existence is aastikya.
7. Dan (Donation):
Dan means to donate a thing owned by self to others on our own and with love and respect.
To donate something, which is not needed, or donate some food item or article to others is
dan on a common level. To donate leftovers to a beggar is not a great dan. Of course, it is
good to give them away instead of throwing them away. But to part with something needed by
us is the excellent dan. While having food, to give some of our own portion to the guest is good
dan. But to donate something without satisfying own need first is the ultimate dan.
If a guest appears while we are having food, to feed him to the fullest extent possible without
having food ourselves is the best dan. If we assure others of no harm, then that dan covers all
sorts of virtues and that dan is incomparable. Siddhantavakya Shravan (Listening to the
The body and this world is impermanent and ephemeral, God is eternal and indestructible.
This is known as siddhanta vakya. To understand the deep meaning of this sentence is
siddhatavakya shravan. With shravanbhakti (constant listening) this is possible.
8. Mati (Intelligence):
To acquire the state of desirelessness, not to seek worldly pleasures and to set aside the
wavering traits of the mind, to face the criticism of the world with courage and to be
imaginationless - this state of intelligence is known as mati. Such a stage can be acquired
with the study of aparigraha.
9. Lajja (Shame):
It is expected that sadhaka should not be ashamed of the good things and should be
ashamed of the bad things. Many times, due to the shame felt about good things, action is not
generated. Even when there is a will, due to the shame, certain actions are not done. Hence,
one must not be ashamed of good things. While studying yogic processes, there are many
such incidents. The body moves in abnormal manner or some of the processes are not usual.
If sadhaka is ashamed of these things, the studies will end then and there. Also, if it is not
possible for us to do a certain process, but if some one else, younger than us in age can
perform it, we need not be ashamed. Such a shame can stop the studies. One should
continue the studies without feeling ashamed, so that the progress is made.
10. Hom (Sacrifice):
The word is generated from havan. Havan means offering to the agni ( fire ). Offering
something belonging to us to the fire is havan or home. Every article in this universe is made
up of panchmahabhutas. Whenever anything is offered to agni, agni turns it again into
panchmahabhuta. To offer something to this agni, which we have earned with due efforts,
without having a feeling of ownership towards it, and with the feeling that the thing will be
turned into panchmahabhuta and will not be seen by us again, thus sacrificing it totally is
havan. Havan means total sacrifice. This is a higher stage than that of dan, because, in dan,
the article is going to be useful to someone else. In havan, the total sacrifice of the article is
expected. It is a permanent sacrifice. This of course, is a description of worldly sacrifice. In
yoga, even spiritual sacrifice is expected.
For the advanced studies in Yoga, sacrifice of sensory perceptions into the sense organs and
sacrifice of sense organs into the mind (antakaran) is expected. With swadhyay of yoga this
can be achieved.
We have studied Yam and Niyam in detail. An attempt has been made to describe in detail
what the Yoga texts state about these Yam and Niyam. In Yoga text, descriptions are made
thoroughly so as to lead sadhaka towards samadhi. While viewing from a common man's
angle and after starting the study of yoga, it may not be possible to follow the Yam and
Niyam to the fullest possible extent. However, for us common people, the aim of the Yoga
studies is not samadhi but to live happily and with contentment in our family life. Hence, we
should try to follow Yam and Niyam accordingly. If we try to follow the principle of ahimsa
as meant in the texts, it may not be possible for us, to stay in this world. Hence, Yam and
Niyam should be followed remembering the customs of this world and to the extent possible
for us. But, to follow them, we should at least have an idea of the ideal state of Yam and
Niyam. It is a general experience that as the study of Yoga proceeds, the tendency to follow
the Yam and Niyam increases. In any journey, one must be aware of the destination and
should travel in that direction. Then one is bound to reach the destination one day. The period
of the journey may be different for everyone, but one who starts travelling will definitely
reach there one day or the other. Hence, to follow Yam and Niyam at least on worldly basis
will suffice and be complementary to the study of Yoga.
3. Yoga Practices - Positions, Postures, Asana
Standing Position:- Yoga Postures or Asana in standing position. Stand erect with the feet
quite close together, heels and the big toes touching each other. Hands touching thighs, this
position helps achieve stability of pulse.
List of Postures or Asana In Standing Position
1. Veer as ana
2. Tr ikonas ana
3. Vr iks has ana
Sitting Position - Yoga Postures or Asana in Sitting position This is the sitting position with
both legs together and stretched, toes erect, spine erect and both hands straight and palms
resting on the floor. List Of Postures or Asana In Sitting Position
Swas t ikas ana
Par v atas ana
Akarna Dhanurasana (Type 1)
Akarna Dhanurasana (Type 2)
Padmasana Yogamudra (Type 1)
Padmasana Yogamudra (Type 2)
Vakrasana (Type 1)
Vakrasana (Type 2)
Ar dhamats yendr as ana
Sharanagata Mudra (Forward Bending)
Vajr as ana
Vajrasana Yogamudra (Type 1)
Vajrasana Yogamudra (Type 2)
Paschimottanasana (Half) (Forward Bending)
Paschimottanasana (Full) (ForwardBending)
J anuhas tas ana
Has tas hir as ana
Ekpadsahajhasta Bhujangasana (backward Bending)
Dwipadsahajhasta Bhujangasana (backward Bending)
D a t t a mu d r a
Supine Position (Yoga Postures in Supine position)
Lie down on the back with legs together, straight extended, the toes erect and hands straight
and palms resting on the floor.
List of Postures or Asana In Supine Position
Uttanpadasana with both legs
Uttanpadasana with one leg
Sar wangas ana
Mats yas ana
N oukas ana
Shav as ana
Pavanamuktasana 2 legs
Pavanamuktasana 1 leg
Prone Position (Yoga Postures in Prone position)
In this position you lie down in prone on front side of the chest and abdomen with the chin
on the floor. Both hands lying besides the thighs, and palms resting on the floor.
List Of Postures or Asana In Prone Position
Saral Hasta Bhujangasana (backward Bending) (with straight hands)
Vakra Hasta Bhujangasana (backward Bending) (with curved hands)
Dhanurasana (backward Bending)
Noukasana (backward Bending)
Makar as ana
Adhv as ana
Articles related to Asana
Yoga Does Not Mean Exercise
Types of Asana
Sun Salutation - Surya Namaskar
Yoga Exercise Surya Namaskar:
It is considered as the best exercise for human body. Surya Namaskar consists of important
Yogasanas and Pranayama. The Pranayama and thus its advantages are skillfully
incorporated in Surya Namaskar. The Mantras (Bija Mantras), which are chanted before
practicing, are also very useful. In all this Surya Namaskar is an appreciated exercise among
people of all ages from kids to old age people.Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation is the best
way to burn the calories and reduce weight. It is often recommended for obesity. In all one
Namaskar includes 10 different positions, they are:
Diagram / Position
Inhale and maintain the position as shown in figure in standing position with hands joined
together near chest, feet together and toes touching each other. INHALE
Exhale and bend forward in the waist till palms touch the ground in line with the toes. Don't
bend knees while performing. At first you may find it difficult to attain the ideal position but
try to bend as much as possible without bending in knees.
- While exhaling bend forward in the waist
- Palms touching the ground, fingers pointing forward, thumbs at 90 degree angle
- Legs straight
- Try to touch the forehead to the knees
- Relax the neck
- Do not bend the knees.
- Do not keep the neck tense.
Inhale and take the left leg back with left toes on the floor, press the waist downwards and
raise the neck, stretch the chest forward and push shoulders backwards. Keep the right leg
and both the hands in the same position. Keep the right leg folded.
-Take the left leg backwards and touch the knee to the floor, keeping the toes
- The knee of the right leg will be bent.
- The knee of the left leg should touch the ground.
- Drop the waist/ hips towards the floor.
- Gaze is upwards, both arms are straight.
- Do not bend the neck forward.
- Do not bend the elbows.
Hold the breath and raise the knee of left leg. Take the right leg backwards and keep it close
to the left leg. Straighten both the legs and both hands. Keep the neck straight and site fixed.
Keep both the toes erect. Take care that the neck, spine, thighs and the feet are in a straight
- Take the right leg back and place it beside the left leg, keeping the toes erect
- Keep the body in one straight line – plank position
- Keep the arms straight
- Gaze forward
- Do not bend the arms
- Do not look towards the floor
- Do not drop the hips/waist towards the floor
- Do not stick the buttocks into the air
- Do not bend the knees
HOLD THE BREATH
Exhaling bend both the hands in elbows and touch forehead on the ground, touch the knees
on the ground, keep both the elbows close to chest. The forehead, chest, both the palms, both
the toes, knees should touch the ground and rest of the body not touching the floor. Since
only eight parts rest on the ground , it is called ' Ashtanga' position. Dos - Bring the body
towards the floor placing the 8 parts on the floor: Toes, knees, chest, palms, and forehead
- Keep the hands close to the body, next to the shoulders
- Keep the elbows pointed to the sky and close in to the body
- Do not touch the thighs, hips, waist or abdomen to the floor
- Do not touch the chin to the floor
- Do not let the elbows fall away from the body
Inhale and straighten the elbows, stretch the shoulders upwards, press the waist downwards
but dont bend the arms. Keep the knees and toes on the floor. Push the neck backwards and
- Push the upper body upwards so that the arms are straight
- Keep the fingers pointed forwards, palms on the ground, thumbs at 90 degree angle
- Open the chest, pull the shoulders downwards
- Drop the head and neck backwards and gaze upwards towards the sky
- Keep the heels, legs and knees together
- Keep the toes erect
- Do not let the legs or heels be apart
- Do not bend the elbows
- Do not hunch the shoulders towards the ears
Hold the breath, bend the neck downwards and press the chin in the throat, push the body
backwards and touch the heels on the ground, raise the waist upwards, do not move the palms
on the floor.
- Push the body upward so the buttocks and waist are raised into the air, leaving the body in
an Inverted ‘V’ position
- Take the head and chin towards the chest
- Try to touch the heels to the floor
- Do not bend the legs in the knees
- Do not bend the arms
HOLD THE BREATH
Hold the breath as in position 7, bring the right leg in the front and place it in between the
hands like in position 3 but instead of left leg in the front here take right leg and place left leg
in the back with left knee and toes on the ground.
- Take the right leg forward and place it between the hands
- The knee of the right leg will be bent
- The knee of the left leg should touch the ground
- Drop the waist/ hips towards the floor
- Gaze is upwards, both arms are straight
- Do not bend the neck forward.
- Do not bend the elbows.
HOLD THE BREATH
Exhale and bring the left leg forwards as in the position 2 and place it in between both the
- Take the left leg forward and place it beside the right
- Palms touching the ground, fingers pointing forward, thumbs at 90 degree angle
- Legs straight
- Try to touch the forehead to the knees
- Relax the neck
- Do not bend the knees.
- Do not keep the neck tense.
Inhaling start getting up and attain the position as in position 1.
Pranayama - "Pranayama is control of Breath". "Prana" is Breath or bio energy in the
body. On subtle levels prana represents the pranic energy responsible for life or life force,
and "ayama" means control. So Pranayama is "Control of Breath". One can control the
rhythms of pranic energy with pranayama and achieve healthy body and mind. Five types of
prana are responsible for various pranic activities in the body, they are Prana, Apana, Vyan,
Udana & Samana. Out of these Prana and Apana are most important. Prana is upward
flowing and Apana is downward flowing. Practice of Pranayama achieves the balance in the
activities of these pranas, which results in healthy body and mind.
Types of Pranayama-
Quiet Breathing, Deep Breathing, Fast Breathing
Tribandha and Pranayama
Nadi Shuddhi Pranayama
Pranayama from Hatha Yoga (Surya Bhedan, Bhasrika, Ujjayi, Shitali, Sitkari, Bhramari,
Murchha & Plavini Pranayama
Preparation for Pranayama
As people have attraction towards Yogasanas, similarly they have attraction to Pranayama.
The process of Pranayama is concerned with the breathing, the indicator of life. And
herefore, if it is done wrongly, it may do harm to the person. This fear dissuades many from
taking up Pranayama. The second reason for its unpopularity is the absence of teachers who
can teach it scientifically. However, it is true that if one does Pranayama unscientifically,
without proper guidance, one certainly suffers. But it does not mean that it is such a difficult
process, that it cannot be done by a common man. On the contrary, if it is learnt and
practiced under an expert's guidance, one learns soon and experiences the wonderful and
even unimaginable benefits. In Patanjali's "Ashtanga Yoga", Pranayama appears at the fourth
stage. This means unless one observes Yama-Niyama and does Asanas well, he cannot reach
this fourth stage. Even the Asanas discussed here are presented in their preliminary form.
Therefore, for doing Pranayama, it is not enough to have done the Asanas as mentioned here.
Even after learning these Asanas and having practiced them, one needs some preparation
before actually taking up Pranayama. And an attempt is made to discuss that preparation.
Actual Pranayama means the holding up of the process of exhaling and inhaling. And it is not
possible to discuss or guide this serious aspect of Yogabhyasa in preliminary discussion.
Therefore, as the preliminary exercises are discussed and which are to be done before the
actual beginning of the Asanas: similarly, for Pranayama too, the preliminary exercises of
breathing are designed and only this part is going to be discussed here. Before examining the
exercises of breathing it is necessary to understand the process of breathing. The breathing
process chiefly involves two activities, viz., inhaling and exhaling. Of these the former is
called "Puraka" and the latter "Rechaka"' in Yogashastra.
These two activities continue non-stop right from the birth to the death of a person. The state
when these two activities are made to halt is given the name "Kumbhaka" in Yoga Studies.
The halt after inhaling, i.e., Puraka is called "Abhyantara Kumbhaka" and after exhaling, i.e.
rechaka. It is called "Bahya Kumbhaka". Two more types of Kumbhaka are mentioned. But
instead of talking of them in detail, let us turn to the process of breathing.
According to the speed of breathing, it is divided into three parts:
1. The smooth breathing that continues naturally without any effort (Quiet Breathing)
2. The protracted breathing which is caused by deliberate slowing down of the breathing
3. The quick breathing which is caused by deliberate increase in the speed of breathing
Pranava Mudra for Pranayama (Body Gestures & Mental Attitudes) The first two fingers of
the right hand palm are to be curved and last two fingers are to be kept straight and to be held
together. Now straighten the thumb and bending the right hand in the elbow, place the curved
fingers in such a way that they come near the lips. Keep the hand from shoulder to elbow
glued to the chest. Keep the right hand thumb on the right side of the nose and last two
fingers on the left side of the nose. Now by pressing the thumb, the nasal cavity on the right
side can be closed and by pressing the last two fingers left side cavity can be closed. The
pressure should be light and on just below the nasal bone, where the fleshy part begins. With
this arrangement of the fingers, one can close any of the two nasal cavities. Here only the
movement of thumb and the last two fingers is expected. Movement of other parts should be
avoided. The face should be kept quite gay and relaxed in order to practice breathing more
effectively. Further, in order to practice the cycle of inhaling and exhaling, six supplementary
types are given. In all these types, the speed of breathing is more. These are actually the types
of quick breathing. While practicing these types one should first sit in one of the following
Asanas: Padmasana, Vajrasana or Swastikasana. Then, the left hand should be kept in
Dhyana Mudra and the right hand in Pranava Mudra. The eyes should be closed and the
whole attention should be concentrated on breathing so that it will be possible to acquire it.
Type - 1
Keep both the nostrils open and then inhale and exhale with both the nasal passages. This
type is nothing but quick breathing with both the nasal cavities. One should inhale and exhale
with as much speed as possible and for as much time as feasible.
Type - 2
Take up Pranava Mudra and close the right nostril with the help of the thumb of the right
hand, and inhale with left nostril and also exhale through the same nasal passage. In brief this
type can be described as quick breathing with the left nostril.
Type - 3
In this type left nostril is to be closed and the quick breathing is done with the right nostril.
Type - 4
In this type close the right nostril, and inhale with the left nostril, and then immediately close
left nostril and exhale with the right nostril. In this way try quick breathing by changing the
Type - 5
This type of breathing is just opposite the previous one, that is, the left nostril is closed and
Inhaling is done with the right nostril, then immediately closing the right nostril, exhaling
is done with the left nostril.
Type - 6
This type of breathing is designed by combining previous two types i.e., type 4 and type 5.
First inhale with left nostril and exhale with right one, then inhale with right nostril and
exhale with left nostril. Later continue the same process i.e. inhaling & exhaling with left and
right nostrils alternately. Further switch to fast breathing by increasing the speed of
After sufficient practice the speed of breathing can be increased immensely. Initially one
should start with eleven cycles of breathing, and it should be increased to one
hundred and twenty one without any fear. However, later the breathing should be made a part
of daily practice of other Asanas, and be practiced for two to three minutes. All these types
can also be practiced with slow inhalation and exhalation. Here it is important to note that
practicing these types of breathing does not mean doing Pranayama. This is simply a
preparation of the actual practice of Pranayama.
In the syllabus of Yoga Pravesh, one Upasana Program was included. It contained Japa
(continuous recitation) of Om as the study of the Dhyana Process. If we study Ashtang Yoga,
it is seen that Dhyana as a process comes later in the study. Dharana comes before Dhyana
process. Yoga Pravesh syllabus did not cover a thorough study of Yoga and as such the word
Dhyana was used only as a popular term. In fact, though termed as Dhyana, it was just a
stage, which comes even before Dharana. In this syllabus, we will study the process of
Dharana as described by Patanjali. However, before doing so, it is advisable to go through
the chapter of Prarthana and Dhyana in the Yoga Pravesh text. While describing the eight
aspects (angas) of Ashtang Yoga, Patanjali has stated Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi as the
last three aspects. It is also stated by him that all the three aspects are collectively termed as "
Sanyam " (Control). This implies that all the three aspects should be considered together. We
should also bear in mind while studying that Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are rogressively
advanced stages of concentration. The highest stage of mental concentration described by the
modern psychologists is more or less similar to the description of Dharana i.e. the primary
stage of concentration as dscribed by Patanjali. This indicates the thoughtfulness of Patanjali
while describing the three stages. Another characteristic of these three stages is that there is
no dividing line in between these stages. When certain progress is made in the studies of
Dharana, Dhyana stage is automatically entered into and with the progress in Dharana stage,
Sadhaka automatically enters in the Samadhi stage. The three stages mingle into each other
as easily as three colours are mixed into each other on the canvass of an artist. During this
syllabus we will not study all the three stages. We will consider only the first stage Dharana.
We had studied this topic generally during the Yoga Pravesh syllabus. Now we will study
Dharana as an independent process.
Deshbandhas chittasya dharana | P Y S 3-1
Patanjali has stated this definition of Dharana. The natural meaning of this sutra is "
Deshbandh of chitta is Dharana ". Chitta i e the mind is extremely wavering; to engage it in a
particular area is Dharana. The mind will be free within the periphery of this area, but it
should not cross the boundary. This exercise is known as Dharana. To understand this
definition an example can be cited:
A farmer owns a calf. The calf wants to roam around in different directions. To control the
calf from such wandering in different directions, it is not possible to tie it up to a particular
point. So the farmer ties a cord of certain length to its neck and then ties the other end of the
cord to a hook in the ground. The calf can freely move in the circle, the radius being the
length of the cord, but it cannot go out of that circle. Thus the farmer has a control on the calf
and also the calf is not at a disadvantage either, as it gains a controlled freedom. This attitude
and the idea is important. The mind, which is just like the calf wants to roam around
everywhere. It is not possible to engage it at a particular point or location. Hence, Patanjali
states the preliminary process of Dharana, a primary step in the lengthy process of
controlling the mind. The restriction put on the mind is known as "Alamban". With the help
of the "Alamban", the mind is fixed and engaged in a particular area. The restriction can be
anything. We will see the restriction or "Alamban" of Om. We have earlier studied the japa
of Om, so we can move further in the same direction. The study of Dharana is the study of
concentration of mind. Hence, certain preliminary preparations are necessary. We get various
perceptions, through the five sensory organs. The mind usually runs behind such sensory
perceptions. To stabilise the mind, attention has to be paid as to how these perceptions can
be reduced. The surroundings should be pleasurable to the mind and not troublesome. There
should not be any external disturbances. The general chaos, other sounds, strong breeze,
different smells, extremely bright light are various disturbances that should be avoided.
When these are removed, the causes, which seek the attention of the mind, get reduced. Then
one should sit on a comfortable seat in a pose conducive to Dhyana such as Padmasan,
Swatikasan or Siddhasan. One should have the practice of sitting firmly, yet comfortably in a
particular pose for a longer duration. Otherwise, the mind will get diverted towards the
signals from various muscles. The pose should be “samkay shirogreevam" and the eyes
should be fixed on the picture of Om in the front. The picture should be at the eye level and
placed under sufficient light. Whenever the eyes try to avert itself beyond the picture, an
effort should be made to lock it on the picture again. The mind generally follows the
eyesight, so fixing of the gaze will result in locking the mind too. Start the Japa of Om with
calm attitude. The way with which the sound of Om is emitted through the mouth should be
gradual and effective. The vocal cords or the lungs should not feel strained while doing the
japa. (the ideal method of the pronunciation should be learnt from the experts). As the tongue
is engaged in the japa of Om, the mind will follow the tongue and will restrict its movement
towards Om. The japa is automatically heard by the ears and as such again felt by the mind.
Thus, the mind will be firmly kept onto the Om. Out of five sensory organs, the eyes, the
tongue and the ears are concentrating on only one subject of Om, so the mind, which runs
after the sensory perceptions, will also be firmly engaged on Om. Here, Om is an "alamban"
and the dimension covered by Om is the restricted area in which the mind can move
(deshbandh). After some period, stop the japa, close the eyes and try to concentrate the mind
on the memories of Om sensed through the gaze, the tongue and the ears. This experience
transcends the sensory organs and the engagement of mind in this is the real dharana. While
practising this, the mind may sway beyond the experience towards other things. This
discontinues the dharana. Then the mind has to be brought again into the experience. There
will be several disturbances; however with practice, they get reduced. The concentration
without any disturbances is dharana. In that stage, there is no other experience than the
"Alamban". It is a soothing, pleasurable stage giving intense satisfaction and peace of mind.
When Dharana is practised for half an hour or so, the stage is experienced only for a few
minutes, the other moments spent in controlling the wandering mind. However, with
continuous practice, the duration of the pleasurable stage increases and the sadhaka becomes
prepared to enter into the next stage. With further practice, the area of the "alamban" or its
limits is to be reduced. With the reduction of the area, the dharana will be more effective and
the sadhaka will get nearer to the next stage of dhyana.
One can select any other alamban other than the dhyana. This "Alamban" should be the
subject of gaze, tongue and the ears like Om. "Alamban", which can be the subject of these
sensory perceptions, is better. If the "Alamban" is subject of only one sensory organ, then the
other organs will choose their own subjects and try to pull the mind towards them. This will
make mind unsteady further. All this should be considered while choosing the subject of the
Patanjali has suggested that Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi should be considered together
and not independently. Hence, while enumerating the results, the results of dharana are not
stated separately, but the result of all the three are given together. However, he has clarified
that the effects will depend on the "Alamban" too, with the examples of different "Alamban".
As the topic is not covered in this syllabus, it is not discussed further over here. However,
we can experience the effect of Dharana from the practical angle. Dharana is the stage of
high concentration of the mind. The modern psychologists have described the highest stage
of concentration of the human mind, which is similar to that in dharana. It means that the
highest level indicated by the psychologists is the first step of concentration of mind as
viewed by Patanjali. Dhyana and Samadhi are stages after this. Dharana affects and reduces
the occupied mind. Hence, the disadvantage s of such occupied mind also get reduced. The
mind is kept firm at one place instead of letting it wander here and there. This reduces
strain on the mind. The mental strength increases. With such habitual concentration, the work
is done effectively and efficiently. The daily practice of dharana reduces the wavering
attitude of mind and a different kind of peace can be observed throughout the day. An effort
is made over here to suggest the direction of the studies of dharana. The description does not
cover the study of dharana in entirety. The study and progress depends on the individual
strength of each sadhaka. A common education cannot be imparted of such advanced study.
After one tries to study and practise, the guidance can be given individually depending upon
the disturbances faced, the experiences observed and after judging the progress. This
information cannot cover all these aspects.
However, for the students, wherein they study different aspects of yoga alongwith dharana,
this much guidance is enough. A daily study and practice is not expected of them. Practice
once a week is enough for them. However, those who want to progress in the matter, should
start practising daily under the guidance of an expert guru.
Dhyan - Meditation
We are going to discuss about Meditation based on "Pantajali Yoga Sutra (Ashtanga Yoga)".
In his sutras the "Sage Patanjali" has explained 8 limbs of yoga (Ashtanga Yoga).
Those are: -
Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, and Dhyan Samadhi. The initial
four stages are the basic stages which help the person to attain "Sthiram" (stability of mind)
which is the prior necessity for practicing the further stages of meditation. According to him
meditation (Dhyan) means -"Full concentration of the mind focused on one of those
experiences" In simple terms the spontaneous concentration of the mind on the object is
Meditation. Now let us see in detail what exactly he means to say about Dhyan (meditation),
We all know that our mind is fickle, like a butterfly, which always flies from here and there
and does not wait at one place for long. But the speed of our mind is far more than the
butterfly or it may be greater than the speed of light.
Mind can recollect past experiences, keeps thinking about the future and experiences the
present with all its might and we do not have any control over our minds journey.
'Dhyan'(meditation) is the study of deep concentration, calmness and tranquility of the mind.
It is the study of attaining complete control over ones mind. Meditation takes the
consciousness beyond conscious, sub conscious & unconscious states to super consciousness.
How do we achieve that? In the fundamental stages of meditation one has to decide some
target upon which one can concentrate. He has to concentrate with the help of his sensors like
' Eyes, Nose, Ears, Mouth and Touch' that means he can? Look at the target whichever he
wants. He can recite a small mantra with the help of mouth and he can listen to the mantra
with his ears .Further more he is not permitted to think anything else, except the target.
What is a target?
A target would be anything, which ones mind would like to concentrate upon. It would be
anything, which will give tranquility and serenity to ones mind. For instance it would be a
photograph of ones deity. In this case the photo frame is the target. In the fundamental stage
one can look at the frame, the picture of the deity, the background of the picture. Think bout
all the above factors, recite or hear a mantra of that deity, but one has to see to it that ones
mind does not run away beyond the target decided. One can develop his capacity of sitting in
this stage from 5-10 minutes to any amount of time. But once the mind thinks of some other
factors your meditation comes to an end. This stage is truly a very fundamental stage and
needs a lot of practice because we are never used to control our minds.Once you have
achieved this for specific period of time you can try for the 'Dhyan'. To explain with Omkar
as the target, we have been looking at it, reciting and listening the mantra, our mind stays
(appeases) upon it for a specific amount of time. Now further we close our eyes and recollect
the picture of the OM.
At the same time we are reciting or listening to the omkar. Then again with closed eyes
are only hearing the reciting of the mantra on the cassette without reciting by our mouth.
Further our minds only recollect the experiences taken by our eyes, ears and mouth. The
actual Dhyan stage has only one dimension, now we concentrate on only a part of our target
and in the next samadhi stage the person experiencing the target tends to be nobody. Only
the experience remains. At this stage the minds target as a number of dimensions. The mind
thinks of all the factors, which it has experienced in the initial stages. Meaning, Properties &
Functions of Mind
It is very difficult to understand the nature of the mind because it has no physical existence. It
is very subtle as well as hidden. But the existence of the mind can't be denied, as many of our
problems physical, mental and psychological are the outcome of our mental condition.
Mind exists in the body but it is distinct from the body and organs. Mind is also distinct from
the spiritual self, 'the Knower' as he just observes the mind and its functions. The Knower
perceives the external objects through sense organs but with the help of the mind. Perception
of any event is not possible without the presence of mind. So in every event of perception
there is an external object, an organ of perception (ears, eyes, nose tongue or skin) and there
is mind and the 'Knower' or 'self'. All these are connected very closely, inseparable but still
distinct from each other. The mind can multiply or divide the strength of the Body. The
person can't work if he is mentally not prepared for the work but a person can work with
extra energy if he has mentally decided to work. The mind has tremendous speed. It can
travel from one point to another point at infinite distance within fraction of a second. The
mind interconnects the 'Self' with the physical body. The mind controls the physical organs
through Brain, Autonomous Nervous System, and Endocrine Gland System. We can
summarise seven functions of the mind as follows. Consciousness, Thoughts, Emotions,
Perceptions, Memory, Intelligence and Judgment.
The Condition of Mind You have already seen that
1. Mind has no physical existence.
2. Existence of the mind can't be denied.
3. The nature of the mind is to move from one point to another continuously.
4. The mind has tremendous speed.
It is clear from the points that the mind is very unstable. Mind doesn't remain stable at any
particular point or any object. It keeps moving all the time. Mind runs after the objects it
likes but runs away from the objects that it dislikes.
Controlling the Mind
You have already studied that the mind is essential in the process of acquiring knowledge.
For example when you are listening to a speaker in lecture, you learn through your ears. But
if your mind is not concentrating on the lecture then you won't understand anything there. As
the mind is unstable, you cannot concentrate on lecture. So to learn what the speaker is
telling, you must establish control over your mind and force it to listen to the lecture. Then
only you'll be able to acquire knowledge. Hence you have to control movements of mind and
make it stable whenever you want, as per your requirements. But this is the most difficult
part because of unstable nature of mind. This process of making mind stable is called
concentration. This is true for any function of mind. If you want to remember a particular
event, you will have to concentrate your mind till you remember that event. It is clear from
the above discussion that it is essential to control the mind. Only then, one can get what he
wants. But controlling mind is the most difficult task. Efforts are being continuously made to
find out the ways and means to establish control over mind. Meditation is one of the very
effective ways to control the mind. This control can't be achieved in short period. Meditation
is a systematically designed technique to achieve this step by step.
Different Links to Access Mind
You have already studied that the mind is an inseparable part of the human being. It is
distinct from brain, nervous system; it is distinct from all other physical organs, it is distinct
from Pranic Force behind body activities. The mind is distinct from all these systems but at
the same time, it is closely associated with all these systems of the body. Mind is very
difficult to access directly but all these systems are relatively easier to access. So mind can be
accessed through these systems, we will discuss some of these links.
1. Body Movement and Mind
2. Sense Organs and Mind
3. Breathing Process and Mind
4. The Self and Mind
Techniques to Control the Mind
1. Body Movement
2. Sense Organs
4. The Self Control
Easy Meditation Technique
As the name suggests this is a very simple and easy technique of meditation, which can be
followed by anyone irrespective of age, sex and physical condition. Even patients can follow
this. The result is experience of calm and quite Mind and body.
Background of Ashtanga Yoga (Eight Limb Yoga by Patanjali)
The yoga as stated by Patanjali is enumerated through Sanskrit and hence contains only the
main and the important thoughts. The first aphorism of the first Pada(part), introduces yoga
Atha Yoganushasanam | 1.1
That means the anushasan of yoga (description) is stated henceforth. That is to be understood
and followed. The next aphorism states the purpose of the yoga:
Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah | 1.2
This means that yoga means controlling the thought waves of the mind. The thoughts,
feelings, emotions arising in the mind are vrittis (nature), which should be controlled. This is
called yoga. The broader perspective is expected and the word Chitta here means Individual
consciousness, which covers all states conscious, sub conscious and unconscious. While
trying to control the vrittis (thoughts, emotions, feelings), certain disturbances are
created which stop or divert the growth. Patanjali has addressed them as “Antaray
(Disturbances) creating chitta vikshepa". These are described as under: Vyadhistyan sanshay
pramad alasya virati bhranti darshanalabdha bhoomi.
Katvanavsthitatvani chittavikshepasteantarayah | 1.30
The aphorism describes nine Disturbances in all. We will consider them one by one.
This stage is different from the naturally healthy body or mind. Certain undesirable changes
are observed in the body or the mind, which are harmful. To remove these changes, the
entire strength is to be concentrated which can hinder the progress of yoga. It is experienced
by all that if there are diseases or any ailments of the body, the asanas cannot be performed
properly. The study of yoga can be continued when these diseases are cured. The main
reason behind such diseases is the imbalance in the seven dhatus in the body, the controlling
doshas - kapha, vata, pitta, the five sensory organs, the five organs of action and the mind.
When the balance is restored, the diseases vanish. Many procedures in yoga are useful for
retaining the balance.
Styan means the laziness of the chitta, or the drowsiness of the mind. The mind does not
believe in karma or action and then there is a tendency not to do anything. Due to this, the
studies of yoga are stopped or not undertaken. The laziness of the body is not considered here
as it is separately stated under the head Alasya. Here, the mental and logical refrain towards
the actions is aimed at.
If there is a doubt in the mind whether it will be possible to undertake something and succeed
in it, it serves as an important hindrance against starting the thing. " Samshayatma Vinashyati
" is known to all, which means that doubt leads to destruction or eradication. To achieve
something, first we must have self-confidence regarding our abilities. Such confidence gives
the required mental strength to succeed in the endeavor. But if we have doubts in our mind, it
leads to destruction of the self-confidence. This in turn leads to inadequate mental strength
behind the efforts. When the doubt arises, it continues to increase and then the efforts are
totally wasted. This leads to inaction and no achievement. If there is a doubt in the mind
regarding the path of the yoga, then it is not possible to progress further. Thus, the doubt is a
major hindrance in the studies of the yoga.
A mistake made deliberately even after understanding its implications is carelessness. The
mind understands the strategy to be followed for achieving something, but there is no action
to achieve it. Such mistake is pramad, which stops us from doing something, which is
essential. The studies of yoga do guarantee favorable returns and hence the desired results,
is thoroughly understood, but still no action is undertaken to pursue the study. This is
pramad, a hindrance in the progress.
The body and the mind is turned towards inaction, i e laziness. Even if all the above
mentioned hindrances are removed, and if there is laziness, then there will be no karma
or action and hence no progress. For progress in yoga, the necessary procedures are to be
repeated again and again. Due to laziness, this becomes impossible and the progress is
stopped. Mental strength and the firmness is essential to remove laziness.
Rati means to enjoy. The organs desire to have pleasurable perceptions. To allow them to
engage in such perceptions is rati. The opposite of this is virati that means virakti. Virati
means to control the organs from running behind such perceptions and not to let them
immerse themselves in things, which yield the perceptions. If there is no virati, the organs
will continuously run behind different matters. Mind runs behind the organs and this cause
hindrance in the yoga. Absence of virati is avirati. To overcome this, control should be
exercised and gained on the organs.
While studying yoga, sadhaka experiences various things. However, wrong interpretation of
such experiences leads the sadhaka to the wrong path, stopping his progress. During the
study of dhyana, certain sounds are heard or some scenes are visualized. Sadhaka may think
that this is awakening of the Kundalini Shakti. However, these experiences are not of
awakening Kundalini Shakti. To believe such a thing is misinterpretation. Many such
hallucinations may be experienced. If they are not interpreted by the sadhaka thoughtfully
with the help from his guru, they may lead him onto the wrong path.
Alabdhabhoomikatva (Non achievement of a stage):
At every stage and procedure of the yoga, the sadhaka can experience the results. However,
the duration of the practice required to get the results is different for each sadhaka. Some
may experience the results immediately; some may take a long time. If to experience the
results at any stage, a longer duration is required or if in a particular duration, the results are
not experienced, then the sadhaka starts doubting the studies, which may lead to its
stoppage. This attitude is alabdhabhoomikatva. The experiencing of the results is relasted to
the duration and this comparison leads to this hindrance. So in spite of other conducive
elements, the study is stopped.
Even after achieving a particular stage, inability to remain firmly in that stage is
anavasthitattva. In all the yoga procedures, right from the physical procedures such as asana
to the mental procedures such as samadhi, it is essential to remain firmly in a particular stage
for some time after achieving that stage. The faith of the sadhaka and the intensity of the
practice determine this. If it is not possible to stay firmly in the stage, doubts arise about the
sadhana which disturb the yoga studies and may stop them altogether too. Hence, special
efforts should be made to stay in the stages firmly. The unwavering faith of the sadhaka can
easily remove this hindrance.
Thus, Patanjali has described nine types of the hindrances. This description is representative
of his views. We experience the hindrances even in daily practice of yoga. One should
familiarise oneself with such hindrances and try to overcome them so as to ensure the
progress. Sadhaka should have doubtless faith on the path of the yoga and he should try to
follow it religiously to overcome the hindrances. All these hindrances cause disturbances in
the mind (vikshepa of chitta) and cause certain effects. Patanjali has stated such effects in the
Dukkhadormanasyaangmejaytvashwasprashwasa vikshepsahbhuvh | 1.31
All these are termed as experiences due to vikshepas. The first experience or the result is
pain. The pain may be physical or mental. If it is not possible to overcome the hindrances in
following the path of yoga or if it is not possible to achieve the target, it causes
dissappointment. The disappointment is termed as Dourmanasya. Due to the hindrances, at
times control over the organs cannot be gained and the body does not cooperate in the studies
of the yoga. This is aangmejaytva. This results in loss of control over breathing too and stops
the progress. To remove the hindrances and their accompanying results Patanjali has given
the guidance in the following aphorism:
Tatpratishedharthamekatatvabhyash | 1.32
That means to remove the hindrances, there should be Ektattvabhyas i.e. concentration.
Concentration also means indomitable and doubtless faith on the path of yoga. Patanjali has
suggested that with such unwavering faith and concentration only, all the hindrances can be
overcome and the ultimate aim can be achieved. While describing the details of this
ektattvabhyas Patanjali has clarified the ashtang yoga path with theYam andNi yama
Yoga Styles or Yoga Paths or Types of Yoga
Ashtanga Yoga (Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga - Eight limbs / step yoga)
The basis of ashtanga yoga is the Yoga sutras (Sanskrit Verses) of Patanjali. We will
consider the different aspects of yoga while remaining under the guiding principles of
Patanjali's Yoga (Ashtanga Yoga). The Asana, Pranayama, Dharana, Dhyan & Samadhi or
the Yama and Niyama are systematically described by Patanjali in his Sanskrit Sutras
1. Yama (Principles)
2.Niyama (Personal Disciplines)
3.Asana (Yoga Positions or Yogic Postures)
4.Pranayama (Yogic Breathing)
5.Pratyahara (Withdrawal of Senses)
6.Dharana (Concentration on Object)
The term Hatha Yoga has been commonly used to describe the practice of asana (postures).
The syllable 'ha' denotes the pranic (vital) force governing the physical body and 'tha' denotes
the chitta (mental) force thus making Hatha Yoga a catalyst to an awakening of the two
energies that govern our lives. More correctly the techniques described in Hatha Yoga
harmonise and purify the body systems and focus the mind in preparation for more advanced
chakra and kundalini practices.
The Hatha Yoga system includes asana along with the six shatkarmas (physical and mental
detox techniques), mudras and bandhas (psycho-physiological energy release techniques)
and Pranayama (pranic awakening practices). Fine tuning of the human personality at
increasingly subtle levels leads to higher states of awareness and meditation.
1. Yogasana (Yoga Positions)
2.Six shatkarmas (physical and mental detox techniques)
3.Mudras and Bandhas (psycho-physiological energy release techniques)
4.Pranayama (pranic awakening practices)
Japa Yoga, Requirements, State of Consciousness in Matra Yoga, Methods of Chanting,
Effects of Mantra, How to Practice & Rules of Mantra Chanting)
Mantra Yoga –
Mantra Yoga has its origin in Vedic Sciences and also in Tantra, infact all the verses in
Vedas are called mantras, it is said that any person who can chant or sing Vedas can achieve
the ultimate salvation or union with supreme consciousness only by chanting the mantras,
which is the aim Mantra Yoga
Bhakti is a Yoga of devotion or complete faith. This faith is generally in the God or supreme
consciousness in any of the forms. It may be Lord Rama, Krishna, Christ, Mohammed,
Buddha etc. It may be a Guru for his disciples
Important thing is the person interested in following this path should have very strong
emotional bond with the object of faith. The flow of emotional energy is directed to this
Mostly people suppress their emotions and that often reflects in the form of physical and
mental disorders. This Bhakti Yoga releases those suppressed emotions and brings the
purification of inner self.
Continuous meditation of God or object of faith gradually decrease the ego of the
practitioner, which further prevents new distractions, fickleness or even pain and induces
strong bonds of love. Slowly the practitioner looses the self identity and becomes one with
the object of faith, this is a state of self realization.
Karma Yoga is a path of devotion to the work. One looses his identity while working, only
selfless work remains. This state is very difficult to achieve. Generally some rewards or
incentives or outcome follows the work and one is attached to this reward or incentive. This
is not the Karma Yoga. Non-attachment with the work and becoming the perfect instrument
of the super consciousness in this manifested universe is the ultimate aim of Karma Yoga.
In the initial stages of Karma Yoga, individual possesses strong sense of ego and consciously
or unconsciously he is attached to the fruits of his efforts or at least praise or recognition but
by continuous involvement in the work and change in mental attitude, one can surely
disassociate himself from the ego and his own personality.
In this state the work becomes worship to the God, it becomes spiritual, also the individual
becomes expert, skilled and Yogi. He achieves stability of mind in all conditions, he is not
disturbed or excited or happy in any of the situations. He becomes divine & his actions
represent God's will.
The essence of Karma Yoga as extracted from 'Bhagvad Gita' says: The world confined in its
own activity except when actions are performed as worship of God. Therefore one must
perform every action sacramentally and be free of your attachments to the results.
Jnana Yoga is the process of converting intellectual knowledge into practical wisdom. It is a
discovery of human dharma in relation to nature and the universe. Jnana Yoga is described
by tradition as a means to obtain the highest meditative state and inner knowledge. Jnana
literally means 'knowledge', but in the context of yoga it means the process of meditative
awareness which leads to illuminative wisdom. It is not a method by which we try to find
rational answers to eternal questions; rather it is a part of meditation leading to self- enquiry
Some of the components of Jnana Yoga are:
1. Not believing but realising
2. Self-awareness leading to self-analysis
3. Experiencing knowledge
4. Realising the personal nature
5.Developing intuitive wisdom
6.Experiencing inner unity
Kundalini Yoga (From the Tantras)
This system of Yoga is concerned with awakening of the psychic centers or chakras, which
exists in every individual. (Please refer to the figure) There are six main chakras in the
human beings. The mind is made up of different subtle layers. Each of these layers
progressively is associated with the higher levels of consciousness. Each of these levels are
related to the different chakra or psychic center located throughout the psychic body. There
are no of other chakras apart from the six main, which are associated with planes below the
human level. In all
We have chakras that connect us to animal levels of mind, to the instinctive realms of being
or to the sublime heights of consciousness. In Kundalini Yoga, higher-level chakras are
awakened and also the activities associated with these higher psychic centers. The basic
method of wakening involves deep concentration on these chakras and forcing their arousal.
Asanas, pranayama, mudra and bandha and other forms of Yoga such as Mantra Yoga are
also used to stimulate the awakening. Kriya Yoga
The word kriya means 'activity' or 'movement' and refers to the activity or movement of
consciousness. Kriya also refers to a type of practical or preliminary practice leading to total
union, the final result of practice. Kriya Yoga does not curb mental fluctuations but
purposely creates activity and awakening in consciousness. In this way all faculties are
harmonised and flower into their fullest potential. Kriya Yoga originated in antiquity and
evolved over time through practise and experience. The full form of Kriya Yoga consists of
over 70 kriyas out of which only 20 or so is commonly known. The kriya practices are
inscribed in numerous tantric texts written in Sanskrit. To date only a few of these have been
translated into other languages. The most authoritative magna opus on the subject of Kriya.
The practices of Kriya Yoga were propagated by Swami Satyananda Saraswati from secret
teachings described in the Yoga and Tantra Shastras. The kriyas, as taught by Satyananda
Yoga™, are one of only two systems of Kriya Yoga recognized the world over, the other
being that of Paramahamsa Yogananda.
Raja Yoga usually refers to the system of yoga that is described in the Yoga Sutras of Sage
Patanjali. In this ancient text Sage Patanjali describes eight stages of yoga which are known
collectively as Raja Yoga.
Raja Yoga is a comprehensive yoga system which deals with the refinement of human
behaviour and personality through the practice of the yamas (restraint) and niyamas
(disciplines); attainment of physical health and vitality through asanas (postures) and
pranayamas (pranic breathing techniques); management of mental and emotional conflicts
and development of awareness and concentration through pratyahara (sensory withdrawal)
and dharana (concentration); and developing the creative aspect of consciousness for
transcendental awareness through dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (absorption in the
Swara is Sanskrit word, meaning sound or note. It is also a continuous flow of air through
one nostril. Yoga means union, so Swara yoga is a science which is realization of cosmic
consciousness through control and manipulation of breath.
Swara Yoga is science which is a complete study, observations, control and manipulation of
breath or Swara. Pranayama is only related to control of breath in various ways. In swara
yoga, you will find association of breath in relation to activities of sun, moon, various
seasons, physical and mental conditions of individuals etc. So Swara Yoga is more
comprehensive in theory and practices related to breath.
Yoga Sutras by Patanjali (Ashtanga Yoga)
8. Samadhi Pada
Yoga Sutras by Patanjali were written to explain the process and systematic analysis of
practical methods for awakening and expanding the higher faculties of mind, intellect, quality
of consciousness. It explores the true potential of human mind beyond the limits of time and
space, a sure way eventually going beyond the mind. This is an ancient but basic text on
Yoga as written by Sage Patanjali 400 years B.C. As the printing technology was not
available at that time, this text has been transferred through generations by oral recitations
(Shruti). That is why the whole knowledge of yoga is very concisely packed in total 196 lines
or Sanskrit Sutras by Patanjali so that students can easily remember these sutras.The
language used for these sutras is Sanskrit, it is little difficult to understand. But still it is
interesting journey in understanding these Sutras and to know the basic principles of science
of yoga. Sanskrit is called the language of Gods, grammar is very accurately maintained in
Sanskrit. The constructions can be very concise and precise meaning. The total 196 Sutras
are divided in 4 chapters, 1st chapter is Samadhi Pada which consists of 51 Sutras, basic
definition of yoga, importance of yoga and different types of states of Samadhi are described
in this Sutras and ways to achieve states of Samadhi.
Patanjali starts with the first Sutra
Atha Yoganushasanam || (1-1)
Atha – now, Yoga – science of Yoga, Anushasanam – Discipline or set of instructions
Now, (start with) the discipline of yoga If you are given a book, then the first question in
your mind will be “What is this book?”. Knowing the question of the reader or starter in
yoga, Patanjali answers this question in first sutra. He says, now I am explaining the
discipline / instructions of science of yoga. There are 3 words in the first sutra, Atha, Yoga
and Anushasanam. It is a very old tradition in Indian scriptures to use word Atha in the
beginning of every text or every important process. Hence Patanjali wants to mention that he
is starting the explanation of Yoga. The literary meaning of Atha is “Now” or “Hereafter”.
Patanjali expects that the reader has studied many philosophies and now he is starting to
study the philosophy of Yoga. After the meaning of first sutra, next question is there in the
mind of every reader and that is What is Yoga? Patanjali explains this in next sutra which we
will discuss in the next session.
Samadhi Pada – Sutra 2
Yogah Chitta Vritti Norodhah || (1 – 2)
Yoga = Union
Chitta = Mind
Vritti = Functioning / Modifications
Nirodhah = Block with Efforts / restraint
“Yoga is to block the modifications of the mind.”
This is the 2nd verse, and Patanjali defines Yoga for the yoga practitioners, let us understand
the meaning of each word. The first word “Yoga” has no of meanings but the basic is join or
process leading to joining. It is derived from a Sanskrit word Yuj which means to join. Now
as per Indian stream of thought, it is the highest join between individual soul or “Atman” and
universal consciousness or “Paramatman”. Paramatman is the divine reality and atman
is part of this divine but separated from it and confined to Body & Mind. The process of
unification of atman with paramatman is Yoga.
The second word is “Chitta” which is derived from word ‘chit’ which means to experience,
Chitta is past tense meaning “Experienced” so it can be regarded as store of experiences and
that is mind, it stores the experiences in form of memories, thoughts, emotions on conscious,
sub conscious and unconscious mind. More specifically it can be taken as sub conscious
mind as most of the experiences are stored there. Vritti is derived from Sanskrit word Vrut
which means to function, so Vritti is functioning or modifications. Nirodhah is the 4th
word, it is taken from rodha which means to block, and nirodhah is to block with planned
efforts and controlled actions. Thus Patanjali explains the central theme of yoga in this sutra,
and to understand the process leading to this goal needs to be studied. After knowing the
meaning of this sutra, next question will be; ‘what will happen when the functioning or
modifications of mind is blocked?’, and Patanjali answers this in next sutra.
Samadhi Pada – Sutra 3
|| Tada Drastu Swaroope Awasthanam || (1-3)
Tada – then
Drastu – Seer
Swaroope – True state of self (Real nature of Soul)
Awasthanam –restored or established
So the 3rd Sutra in 1st chapter of Patanjal Yoga Sutras is “Then the seer is established in his
real or true (original) state or nature.” In the earlier sutra Patanjali has explained that Yoga is
blocking the functions of the mind. Now if the functioning is blocked or totally controlled the
the Chitta or mind will also stop interacting with seer or Atman and Atman / soul will be free
of the body – mind complex. Otherwise the Atman is confined by this Body – Mind complex
and has no way to unfold its true nature or original state. This is like a person who does not
have any job or responsibility and peacefully resting in his house without any attachments.
This state is the aim or ultimate goal of Yoga. Patanjali firmly reiterates in this sutra that the
practioner of Yoga can achieve the ultimate goal of Yoga trough “control of Vrittis” or
control of modifications / functions of the mind. Patanjali talks about a final state of
achievement as “Kaivalya”. But now the question is how to control this functions of the mind
or Vrittis which normally stimulates the Chitta or Mind to act on the Atman, the real self.
This question of how to tackle with the Vrittis is tackled by Patanjali in the remaining sutras.
Patanjali is explaining different ways to achieve this goal. One way may not be suitable to all
Yoga Sadhakas / practitioners, hence he mentions many ways but in the sutras, he has mostly
focused on Ashtanga Yoga. In the next sutra, Patanjali is explaining the starting point of this
Ashtanga Yoga by Maharishi Patanjali