8 steps: what is yoga?

It is believed that the yoga teachings of ancient, religious bias. Many centuries ago it was. But everything in life changes. Today, yoga is a lot of new angles, faces, and names. She became more athletic, therapeutic and affordable, but retained its purpose and brings light into people’s lives, connecting them with their true self.

When the end of the XX century yoga from the ashrams of India moved to Moscow cellars, it has already passed a long way of transformations. During its “move” from East to West, which lasted for hundreds of years, the ancient doctrine has received dozens of interpretations, acquired by the Federations and Councils, Institutions, and even Championships. Of course, the popularization of yoga led to its simplification, but this process has helped millions of people around the world to embark on a journey of self-improvement.
Truisms. Literally the word “yoga” is “exercise”, “Union”, “communication”, “harmony”. The first mention of yoga belong to ancient Indian texts Rigveda (a collection of religious hymns XVII-XI centuries BC), the Upanishads (philosophical and theological texts centuries BC), the Mahabharata (great epic of the descendants of king Bharata, where the most important for understanding yoga is the poem “Bhagavad Gita”). Bhagavad-Gita was created as an independent work in the VIII-VII centuries BC and recorded in the III-II centuries BC In these texts, yoga is presented as a set of spiritual, mental and physical practices, aimed at cognition of the true nature of self. Knowledge and practices render a more perfect creature.

“ABC of yoga” considered to be “the Yoga sutras the” sage Patanjali, presumably created in the II-V centuries BC. About the life of Patanjali is known not more than about ancient Greek Homer — the author of “the Odyssey” and “Iliad”; but his collection of 195 short aphorisms laid the Foundation for classical eightfold yoga.

Eight steps is a sequential course of study of ethical, physical and metaphysical aspects of yoga, which lies at the heart of most modern trends. It is expected that through the development of these stages the student will eventually reach the main goal — the liberation. It will end the earthly life full of suffering, and begin a more serene existence. However, worrying that yoga teaches you a quick death, it is not necessary, rather it helps to prolong earthly life to give the possibility of attaining liberation in the current incarnation.

The first two stages, Yama and Niyama, is an ethical rule of yoga, which is necessarily preceded by “asanas”, that is physical exercise.

Yama consists of five principles. The first principle is Ahimsa — teaches us not to harm living beings. The second principle is Satya — truthfulness — is not just refraining from lies and deception. The third principle is Asteya — nepristoinyi another, preventing theft. Fourth — aparigraha — giving up the possession of unnecessary things, from greed. Fifth — Brahmacharya — abstinence, removal from sensuality in a broad sense. It should be noted that different yoga teachers tend to give different principles of interpretation: so, Brahmacharya can be considered in the same tradition, complete sexual abstinence, and other sexual moderation, allowing intimacy with one partner.

The next step, Niyama, the transition from restrictions to recommendations. It is believed that with the development of the first stage of yoga the consciousness of the disciple is freed from defects and ready to receive the virtues, among which there are five main. Shaucha — purity, external and internal. Santosha — satisfaction with what we have. Tapas — zeal in practice, self-discipline. Svadhyaya — self-knowledge and the study of spiritual literature. Ishvara-pranidhana — delegating himself to the Highest beginning, the dedication of the fruits of all their actions to divine power. In addition, some other traditions are additional principles Niyama is sumanasa (benevolence), Nigara (detachment), man-dhatar (kindness), avasa (independence), mantra-Vidya (the knowledge of mantras), damaraland (possessing extraordinary power) and misplacedand (rejection of the presence of opponents).

The practitioner then proceeds to asanas — exercises corresponding to the third stage. Asanas need to train the body. The utilitarian approach: a healthy person can easily carry the clock still sitting in meditation. The ability to concentrate on the sensations in the muscles facilitates the learning process of meditation techniques, and an elongated spine and open the joints contribute to the alignment of the internal energy channels. List required to perform the asanas “Yoga sutras” of Patanjali is not given, but they cite other sources, for example, “Hatha yoga Pradipika” (dates back to the XV-XVI centuries BC.). Here asanas are formed in a certain sequence, starting with a series of Surya Namaskar (“Sun Salutation”), repeated several times. Followed by standing poses, bending, postures of sitting, lying, inverted postures, and a final Savasana. So, by regularly practicing asanas and making your body resilient, the student directs attention inwards and develops the next stage.

Pranayama — the fourth stage of yoga, dedicated to the management of the primary energy of the Universe, prana. Pranayama teaches you to control your breathing using special techniques. Alternating between deep, medium and shallow breathing, especially using the delay on the exhale and the inhale, as well as directing the breath to certain areas of the body, the yogi accumulates life energy and uses it for their own purposes. All cells of the body (including the brain) in the process of breathing exercises get huge amount of oxygen.

Simultaneously quieting the mind and relaxing the body (a nice “side effects” from techniques of pranayama) accumulates life force. It is important that the process of development of each successive stage of yoga previous not forgotten. All knowledge is add up and complement each other. So, having mastered the technique of pranayama, the student can use them to more rapid progress in the asanas: the hot breath, the body becomes more flexible and obedient.

The fifth stage of yoga — pratyahara, the practice of diverting the senses from the objects to which they are directed, the retention state of “here and now”. To perceive what is happening, but not to allow the mind to be fixed neither on external nor on internal objects, the main task of the yogin at this stage. Knowing pratyahara, the pupil begins to perceive all phenomena are non-judgmental, free from the influence of emotions and feelings, and is left alone with his mind. That is, the fifth step is, simply, a transition from “applied” yoga to the “speculative” practices.

The next step — Dharana, concentrating the mind on any single object. Hectic stream of thoughts stop, the mind jumps from subject to subject and consciousness unilaterally. Deep concentration on one object for 12 seconds is Dharana, and 12 such gongabu — this is Dhyana, the seventh stage of yoga.

At this stage, the yogi is aware only that he exists, and what is the object of his meditation. Resistant Dharani practice of Dhyana and in the end will lead to the last stage of the eightfold path is Samadhi, as superconsciousness, in which there is a unity of the perceiver and the perceived, and the individual consciousness (microcosm) merges with the cosmic absolute (macrocosm). The state of Samadhi is preceded by the total liberation from the suffering caused by the desires of the restless mind, and from rebirth.

Yoga is an ancient, deep, powerful in its potential impact doctrine, and each can learn from him anything you want. Today the doctrine crumbled into many simple and practical techniques. Yoga for weight loss, yoga for pregnant, yoga for eyesight, yoga for better workouts in any sport…

Whatever school of yoga you choose, it is important to remember that neither the treatises nor the teacher will not force you to become a strict ascetic, to adopt vegetarianism, to sing hymns in any gods or curled into a donut without a good reason. It is not a tool and not a goal. But they will make you pay attention to your life, not just for posture. Where are the fatigue and bustle? Why such a conglomeration of thoughts, things and deeds? Which really just means “relaxation” or “acceptance” or “the importance of the process and not the result”? All teaches yoga, is awareness, responsibility and calm. “Yoga Citta Vritti nirodha” — “Yoga is the stopping of the fluctuations of the mind.”