Most of the time people refer Yoga as stretching exercises only but its more than that. Yoga is a way to become physically, mentally and spiritually strong.
It is mentioned in the Rigveda (an ancient text) that Yoga is the part of the pre-vedic culture in Hinduism. It’s later developed in fifth century. The classical yoga or also known as Ashtang yog is a group of 8 different kind of practices.
- Yama: This is the first basic step of yoga. Practitioner needs to follow five social ethics.
a. non-violence: Do not harm anyone with words, thoughts or deeds.
b. Truth: Always speak truth, Say only what’s in your mind
c. Never steal: no tendency to thief
d. Celibacy: Be restrained in all sensory pleasures
e. No unnecessary accumulation – Do not accumulate excessively and do not desire the things of others
- Niyama (Rule) : Follow five personal ethics
a. Purity – practitioner has to be purified b body and mind
b. Contentment – being satisfied and happy
c. Tenacity – To be self-disciplined
d. Self-study – Learn yourselves
e. God-providence – Full devotion to God
- Aasanas (Pose) : These are the very famous exercises but i will call them postures because they are designed to bring the body in natural form after sleep or siting for hours. They are also designed to cure problems with the physical structure of body.
- Pranayama (Breathing exercises): Control of life through special breathing techniques
- Pratyaahaar (Withdrawal) : This was introduces by Maharishi Patanjali. It is to imitate the sensing power of those senses which fickle with the mind.
- Dharna (Assumption) : This is the exercise to control the mind and concentrate on only subject. People used to practice concentrating only on single assumption.
- Dhyan (Meditation): Practitioner used to concentrate on single thought or subject. This practice helps them to gain deep concentration power.
- Samadhi : This is the last stage where practitioner is so involved in meditation that he left the sense of his surrounding and can sit for longer and longer period of time.
These are eight yog sutras which are being followed since ancient India and still some gurus are teaching these techniques in ashrams. Nowadays people are not aware of these yoga sutras and they just concentrate on stretching exercises.
Yoga is very powerful technique and if followed in right way then it can bring magical results. These days people have very tight schedule that they can not think about all these but still we have to pass on some good habits to our next generation.
If you want to read more about Ashtanga yoga then I recommend to read this book. Or if you want to know more about the Yoga Sutras then go read this book.
To know more about Meditation and Peace, read my blog.