Patanjali was the first person to compose yoga into a text called Yogasutra around two thousand years ago. He did not create anything new with yoga but rather outlined the art and summarized it in an organized fashion. The metaphysical base for his book consists mainly the sankhaya theory, but he made considerable changes to it. For instance the sankhaya theory consisted only of Prakriti (Unmanifest, Primordial "matter") and Purusha (Consciousness) but patanjali added the Purushavishesha (Supreme Being or God) element to the theory. The principles of yoga were described by patanjali in an eight fold yogic discipline.
The yoga sutra is the known as most important basic text on yoga. In it he described that the goal of the student practicing yoga should be to attain physical, mental and spiritual health. The eight yogic disciplines according to patanjali are.1) Yamas (restraint) The importance in yama is given to restraining oneself from anything that tempts pleasure. The yama is split into five parts they are Non-violence against any living thing is known as "Ahimsa", "Satya" which is Honesty or being truthful, Not Stealing other peoples properties (asteya), Celibacy (bramacharya), Not being greedy for material things (Aparigarha).2) Niyamas - Niyamas are precepts that are applicable self-discipline.
The niyamas precepts fall under five categories they are purity (saucha), Cantonment (Santosh), Austerity (Tapas), Study (Swahdyaya), Surrender (Ishar Pranidhana).3) Asanas (Postures) There are various yogic postures; each and every posture is given a unique name and special way of performing them. All the postures are designed to promote wellness of the three parts body, mind and inner spirit of a human being. The Asanas (postures) carry the extraordinary ability to bring the physical body, mind and spirit to refresh and be in harmony with each other.
The different postures are Surya Namskar (Greeting the Sun), Utthan Pada Asana (Leg Lifting Posture), Paschimothan Asana (Bending Forward and touching toes Posture), Paschimothan Asana (Bending Forward and touching toes Posture), Bhujanga Asana (The King Cobra Posture), Salabha Asana (The Locust Posture), Sarvanga Asana (The shoulder Stand Posture), Matsya Asana (The Fish Posture), Dhanur Asana (The Bow Posture), Hala Asana (Plough Posture), Shava Asana (Relaxation Posture).4) Pranayama - Breathing control in yoga In the word Pranayama, Prana stands for "Life" and Ayama stands for "Control". So it means control of life and it is practiced through breathing techniques. This is a very important part of yoga and is performed along with Asanas.
Basically Breath is the force that controls our life. Life ends when a living thing stops breathing. So the yogis developed this technique to nurture, increase the control life force. The various types of breathing techniques are Ujjayee, Shitali, Viloma, Kapalabhati, Anuloma, Suryabhedana.
Some of the breathing techniques can be performed sitting down but some others have to be performed while a person is standing up. To master this techniques it can months or even years but this technique has to be practiced with great care because practiced in correct way it can cure almost all disease but done in a improper fashion can give rise to respiratory problems.5) Pratyahara (Bringing Senses under control): If a person fails to control is senses then he will face great difficulties in his life. This part of yoga teaches a person to bring his senses under control by controlling his desires for external objects.
6) Dharana (Concentration): When the human body has been toned by yoga postures, Mind and senses have been controlled by pranayama and pratyahara techniques. Then his mind has to be trained to concentrate on a single point to achieve the state of complete absorption. This technique projects a man to that stage.7) Dhyana (Meditation): As any liquid when it is poured into a container it takes the shape of the container. Like that when the mind is trained to contemplate the supreme entity in all likeliness becomes closer to the Supreme Being.
A person can reach that stage by practicing meditation. The proven example is Lord Buddha, who by practicing uninterrupted meditation attained nirvana.8) Samadhi: This stage of yoga is the last step; a person at the peak of meditation enters this state. Where even if his body and mind are at rest his senses are awake..
Michael Russell.Your Independent guide to Yoga.
By: Michael Russell