Lord Patanjali, the exponent of Yoga Shastra has integrated the entire Yoga Shastra into various sutras, which circle around Samadhi (reconciliation), Sadhana (means), Vibhuti and Kaivalya. In the first part, reconciliation to achieve control of mind and the means to perfect reconciliation have been discussed. In the second part, Ashtaang Yoga, which is required to achieve reconciliation, has been discussed. In the third part, Vibhutis of Yoga and in the fourth part, establishment of Kaivalya have been discussed.
Ashtaang Yoga has an important role in the perfection of Yoga. These eight parts of Yoga are as follows -
- Yama (restraints).
- Niyam (regulations)
- Aasan (postures)
- Pranayaam (control of breath)
- Pratyaahaar (restraining of sense organs)
- Dhaarna (contemplation)
- Dhyaan (meditation)
- Samadhi (reconciliation).
Non-violence, truth, not stealing the wealth of others, celibacy and renunciation, these are five parts of Yama or restraints.
Ahimsa (non-violence): Not tormenting any creature through our mental, verbal and physical action. Non-violence is a very powerful virtue. In the company of a true non-violent Yogi, even the snake and mongoose give up their natural hostility.
Satya (Truth): Mind must think without jealousy and craftiness and the words should reflect this state of mind truly.
Asteya (not stealing the wealth of others): Mind must not think about the wealth of the others, eyes must not see the wealth of the others and the body must not make efforts to steal the wealth of the others.
Brahmacharya (celibacy): Mind must not think about women, eyes must not see the women and the body must not make efforts to come in contact with women. Celibacy preserves semen- the wonderful force of creation and thus helps Yogi to achieve extra-ordinary perfection.
Aparigraha (Renunciation): Non-accumulation of things that provide comforts in the way of sight sound, smell, taste and touch as well as controlling the desire of getting others? wealth. When a Yogi achieves perfection in renunciation, he automatically comes to know about his own past, present and future births as well as those of the others.
Regulation too has five kinds- purity, satisfaction, expiation, recitation and devotion. Shaucha (purity): Purity is of two kinds- external and internal. External purity involves cleansing of body through water and soil, of conduct through desertion of selfishness and of food through consumption of plain edibles earned through just means. Internal purity involves cleansing of inner self through cultivation of pious feelings. It also involves destruction of self-defeating feelings like ego, anger, jealousy, fear, lust etc. Through the practice of purification means, mind feels happy and concentrates easily.
Santosh (satisfaction): Always being happy with what one has received and remaining sated in favourable and unfavorable situations are the features of satisfaction.
Tapa (expiation): Expiation begins from the mind when one learns to control the ever- conflicting thoughts. With that, a Yogi develops the capacity to tolerate hunger and thirst, coldness and heat etc.
Swadhyay (Reading and reciting): Reading of benevolent scriptures and reciting the name of almighty God are included in this head.
Pranidhaan (devotion): Devotion involves dedicating our every action- mental, verbal and physical at the feet of God. Devotion helps one to win his ego and is an efficient means to practice reconciliation.
Gestures in which a Yogi can sit for long without straining his limbs is what we call as postures or Asanas. In a particular posture, arms, legs and other parts of the body are kept in a comfortable position without feeling least pain. When a Yogi achieves perfection, he can sit up to three hours in a posture continuously. Postures are good means to control the body and make it indifferent to the effects of heat and cold. Some of the prominent Yogic postures have been described here.