8 STEPS OF Ashtang- Yoga IN BRIEF
Yoga is a perfect science for good health of body, mind, intellect and soul. Its ultimate goal is self realization by meditation. When one reaches the last 8th step of Samadhi, one SEES and unites with the Universal Holy Spirit or God Supreme.
The path is not as easy as it appears. But some theoritical knowledge of the 8 steps awakens the mind. It saves one from falling a pray to half learned Indian Yoga Teachers who hypnotize any unfamiliar person with age old tricks of Pranayama, OM chanting and simple meditation whici were developed in India by great Rishies since ages. As one will note that this is only the 4th step in the Yoga course. Please remember the eight words and their correct meanings. Old wine of Yoga is presented in a new bottle of science. The following is a short summary of new approach to YOGA.
1.Yama : Means fear of death. One studies Yoga to liberate self from the natural fear of death. Five moral words are to be translated in life to postpone death. These are
Satyam (Truth), Ahimsa (non violence),
Asteya (no thefts, no dishonesty), Aparigraha (no greed of material wealth, political power, position),
Brahamcharyam (chaste sex life).
2.Niyamas: Meaning regularity and disciplined life style, punctuality of time, self control. Five more words are indicated in this step for healthy life.
Santosha (satisfaction with any situation in life),
Saucham (Clean manners in neighborhood living, food, water and air etc.),
Tapa (Penance or training of enduring some hardships during young age, e.g., fasting for a day or two, remaining thirsty for few hours, celibacy, sleeping on hard ground, victory over vices like smoking, alcohol, drugs etc., etc.),
Swadhyaya (study of self by daily meditation),
Ishvara Parinidhanam (Surrender to God during all odd and even situations during life one has to face).
3. Asanas : Nearly 300 different Asanas are shown in Yoga books. They are static postural exercises for preserving full mobility of joints and tone of muscles. Relaxing Asanas like
Sabasana and Pranayamas can be done in between Asanas.
Pranayamas :Different deep breathing exercises. By bringing the sub-conscious vital system of respiration under voluntary control, all thoughts disappear from brain and wonderful peace of mind is immediately experienced by the student. It also increases the oxygenation of blood and fatigue is gone in no time. Vegetarian diet is good for control of cholesterol, reducing weight and long life.
5. Pratyahara : Early self control tricks start with this step.
Tapashcharyas or penances bring victory over the 5 senses craving for short term joys, e.g., taste of meat eating, smoking, alcohol, drugs etc., etc.,. Always keep ears and eyes open and try to acquire new knowledge from any corner at all times.
6. Dharana : Setting short term and long term goals in life. Four age related goals (Dharanas) are indicated in this step. Achieve one goal during one quarter (Ashrama) of 100 years life. During first 25 years celibacy is the vow and knowledge of (obligatory duties) is to be gained along with school education by the student. During second quarter, marriage and family life in home-
Grahastha-Ashrama. Earn money (Artha) by honest means is the path indicated for this age period. Third age quarter is
Van-prastha-Ashrama. (Kama) is goal which means fulfill all desires. Live a public servant's life. This is Duty in this Ashrama. After 75 years renounce all high positions, wealth and comforts and live a simple saintly life-
Sanyasa-Ashrama. Meditate to reach the Nirvana or
Moksha State is the goal of this last age period. Win the fear of death. Be prepared to meet the death
(Yama). Desire to dwell with God in the heaven after death.
7. Dhyana : One pointed contemplation is called Dhyana. Contemplate daily upon short term goals. Do daily obligatory duties. Pay full attention in job and study. Do all deeds in an excellent manner. Average Yoga teachers ask to close eyes and visualize some idols of deity Gods to teach this step. But Dhyana is the art of perfect attention and concentration in any job you are doing at the present moment. Arjuna hitting bird's eye (bulls eye) in Mahabharat story is an example of Dhyana. No anger at any time. No useless talking while driving a car means fullest attention or Dhyana.
8. Samadhi : Most Yoga teachers are not clear about Dhayana and Samadhi steps. In Samadhi state one tries to identify body and soul as separate elements by constantly thinking of one's own death. In deep
Samadhi "you are looking at your own dead body". Try to associate death with Pranayama (Respiration) and heart beats. I am alive as long as these two vital systems function. When heart or lungs stop I die. The moment of my death is next breath or next heart beat, but today and now is life. Do not try for Samadhi step before the age of 75 or more. This page is like a concentrated wine. Each step needs an hour's discourse to explain many Sanskrit words along with examples, to give deeper insight into this very vast, wonderful and useful subject of self-knowledge, Universal Religion and how
to remain ever united (=IN YOGA) with God.