Yoga


The word YOGA has been derived from the Sanskrit root "yuj", which means "to bind". It is the true union of our will with the will of God.

In Hatha yoga eight stages have been advised for the upliftment of body, mind and spirit. These eight stages are known as Ashtanga Yoga. The eight stages are as follows:

STAGE I : Yama (Social Discipline)


Yama means restraint or abstention. It contains five moral practices. They are:

1. Ahimsa (Non-violence) - means not to hurt any creature mentally or physically through mind, speech or action.
2. Satya (Truthfulness) - is the presentation of a matter as perceived with the help of sense organs.
3. Asteya (Non-stealing) - means not to covet and acquire others possessions physically, mentally or by speech.
4. Brahmacharya (Celibacy) - means moderation in sex. It does not mean lifelong celibacy but moderation in sex between married couples.
5. Aparigraha (Non-acquisitiveness) - means abandoning wealth and means of sensual pleasures.

STAGE II : Niyama (Individual Discipline)


Rules of conduct towards oneself consists of certain discipline, which is both physical and mental. Five rules have been mentioned. They are:

1. Shaucha (Cleanliness) - it means internal and external purification of the body and mind.
2. Santosha (Contentment) - is a state of mind in which one lives happily and satisfied in congenial or uncongenial atmosphere.
3. Tapas (Austerity or penance) - is the conquest of all desires or sensual pleasures by practicing purity in thought, speech and action.
4. Swadhyaya (Self-study) - means exchange of thoughts in order to secure purity in thought and accomplish knowledge.
5. Ishwara Pranidhana (Surrender to God) - It consists of pure devotion to God.

STAGE III : Asana (postures)


Asana means holding the body and poise to the mind. The practice of asana brings stability to the body and poise to the mind. The practice of asana brings purity in srotasas, firmness to the body and the mind.

STAGE IV : Pranayama (Breath Control)


The literal meaning of Pranayama is Breath Control. The aim of practicing Pranayama is to stimulate, regulate and harmonize vital energy of the body. Just as a bath is required for purifying the body, so also Pranayama is required for purifying the mind.

STAGE V : Pratyahara (Discipline of the senses)


The extroversion of the sense organs due to their hankering after worldly objects has to be restrained and directed inwards towards the source of all existence. This process of drawing the sense inwards is Pratyahara or putting the sense under restraint.

STAGE VI : Dharana (Concentration)


The extroversion of the sense organs due to their hankering after worldly objects has to be restrained and directed inwards towards the source of all existence. This process of drawing the sense inwards is Pratyahara or putting the sense under restraint.

STAGE VII :Dhyana (Meditation)


Dhyana means meditation i.e. continuation of one-pointedness of the mind on the object. When one sustains and maintains the focus of attention through Dharana unbound by time and space, it becomes Dhyana (Medication). Deep concentration destroys the Rajas and Tamas Gunas of mind and develops the Satvika Guna (qualities).

STAGE VIII : Samadhi (Self-realization)


The eighth and final stage of Yoga is Samadhi. It means self-realization or complete absorption. This is the ultimate aim of yoga in which the mind reaches the highest bliss.

The last three stages Dharna, Dhyana and Samadhi constitute Antaranga or internal yoga while the first five stages are called Bahiranga or external yoga. If all these five stages are followed in life, virtues like morality, good character are developed in man.

As mentioned the main aim is to attain salvation and the means through which it has to be attained is our body and soul. To prepare the body and mind, the above eight stages have been mentioned. Out of the eight limbs of Hatha yoga, the first four viz. Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama are practiced for promoting the health of body and mind.

How are yoga and ayurved interconnected?


Ayurved shares many principles with the Darshan shastras, the two main being Sankhya and Yog Drashan.

Ayurved stresses upon importance of Panchkarma for Sharir shuddhi while Yog implies the use of Shatkarmas. Shatkarmas work on the mind and the body and Panchkarmas work at the minutest cell level in the body and so are Sukshma Srotogami. The body and the mind are interconnected and cannot be separated from each other.
(yogasya chittaÉÉ..)

Here, Chitta means Mann on a broader aspect, however it has a deeper meaning. To let go and overcome the desires of the Mann to attain Moksha is Yog.The Mann has three properties namely Satva (quality) Raja and Tama (doshas).Yog mainly works to reduce Raja and Tama and increase Satva. Yog accelerates the power of the mind by using Asanas and techniques as a tool to strengthen the body in turn to empower the mind and finally attain Moksha. The great sage and physician Charakacharya mentioned Yog as "Moksha pravartaka".

The body has three Doshas viz. Vata, Pitta and Kapha. When balanced they make/ nourish the body ; when imbalanced they destroy the body via various diseases. Panchkarma works at this level to always maintain the Dosh equilibrium.

Whatever occurs in the surroundings certainly has a similar profound effect in the body. In turn, doshas get vitiated and the physical, mental well-being is disturbed (the Sharir houses the Mana).

Sankhya darshan has charted out the existence and origin of Panchmahabhutas from Avyakta, Mahat, Ahankar, Buddhi Mann etc.

All of the above proves that finally Mann and Sharir are inseparable and so is Ayurved and Yog shastra.