Many people think (wrongly) that yoga is nothing but a series of different exercises; a kind of sport.
Yoga should not be reduced only to postures (asanas) because they represent a fraction of a bigger system. Traditionally the main role of asana was to reduce ’ rajas’ (mind- disturbing quality).
The real purpose of yoga (samadhi) is manifested in deep meditation, when the body is in rest, the asana fades, the physical body and its position is forgotten. But it should be noted that different yoga paths have different emphasis on asanas. Hatha yoga is the yoga path which uses asanas as primary means. However the different yoga paths converge to an end (this is samadhi) and their essence can be found in Yoga Sutras, written by Patanjali. In Yoga Sutras, Patanjali writes about ’The Eightfold Path of Yoga’, it is called Raja Yoga, ie, 'Royal Yoga'
THE EIGHT LIMBS OF YOGA
YAMA - Rules of Social Conduct / Macrocosmic practice
NIYAMA - Rules of Personal Conduct / Microcosmic practice
ASANA - Physical Posture: Right Orientation of the physical body
PRANAYAMA - Breath Control : Right use of the Vital Force
PRATYAHARA - Control of the Mind & Senses
DHARANA - Concentration : Control of Attention
DHYANA- Meditation : Right Reflection
SAMADHI - Absorption : Right Union
Yoga has - like every other authentic spirituality has - universal ethics. The first two limbs of yoga (Yama & Niyama) make up the ethical foundation of human life, the principles of social and personal conduct. Without these we will not have the right foundation for wholesome growth. They constitute the basic rules of `Dharma` or right way of living.
How is my relationship with external world
How is my relationship with the myself
YATHA PINDE THATHA BRAHMANDS
As microcosm so the macrocosm = As withIn so withOUT
1st limb of Yoga: YAMA - Principles of social conduct
The Yamas are the five main attitudes necessary to establish a right relationship with the external world.
The `5 Nons`
`` Avoid unrighteous behaviour. ``
1. Non- harming/ non- violence (Ahimsa)
2. Non- lying/ Truthfulness (Satya)
3. Non -stealing (Asteya)
4. Non- lust / Control of sexual energy (Brahmacharya)
5. Non- possessiveness (Aparigraha)
2nd limb of Yoga : NIYAMA - Principles of personal conduct
The Niyamas are the five Yogic rules of personal conduct refer to our daily life- style practices both for self - healing and self -development. These are the main disciplines that we must follow in order to evolve in consciousness. We call them to the `` Five Observances``.
Or we just simply can say that the Niyamas are the principles of the Inner Life of a Yogi.
`` Follow correct moral precepts.``
1. Cleanliness and purity ( Shaucha)
2. Contentment (Santosha)
3. Perform austerities/ Self -discipline (Tapas)
4. Self -study (Svadhyaya)
5. Surrender to the Universal Spirit/ to the Divine Will (Ishwara Pranidhana)
These ( Yama & Niyama) are the attitudes and norms of actions, which bring harmony with ourselves and with others. The moral blamelessness is a prerequisite for practicing yoga. Leaving these principles out of consideration make our progress - on our way of self-improvement, self - discovery, satisfaction and harmony – impossible.
In my next articles we will discuss these moral principles in details.