What are the eight stages of Patanjal Yoga?
The Indian sage Patanjali described in the yoga sutras of Patanjali the eightfold path of yoga .
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It describes the eight steps that the practitioner must take to travel the path to the true essence of the soul and reach the full life.
These eight steps of yoga are: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, prathyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi.
Yoga does not have a structured moral order “from the outside”, but it does provide a general line of conduct before others and before oneself; all morality exists for the yogi in function of liberation, which is the only absolute good.
The 8 steps of yoga to achieve full life
1.- Yama (Universal Principles)
They refer to the ethical principles and rules for living in society. There are 5 precepts that govern the behavior of a yogi:
- Ahimsa: nonviolence and respect for life. It is a concept that is based on not hurting the other either with the word, the thought or the work. The yogi shows kindness and compassion towards others, towards the environment and toward himself.
- Satya: what it means truthfulness, incites to be sincere and honest. Do not lie or cheat, both others and ourselves.
- Asteya: it is understood as not stealing or taking advantage of a situation that someone has entrusted to us. It goes beyond seizing material goods, it also includes “stealing” the time, energy or peace of others.
- Brahmacarya: Sexual moderation , conservation of energy. Avoid sexual excesses, which are the quickest way to exhaust vital forces and divert the person from their path. Do not deny sexuality, but not be governed by it; free themselves from attachment to sexuality without denying their virtues. It does not imply celibacy, but does not waste sexual energy, as it is immensely powerful.
- Aparigraha: Limit possessions. It refers to living without greed, living in a simple way and receiving what is just without clinging to material goods or our thoughts or emotions. It also includes fleeing from envy that is wanting what others possess and acting responsibly with our environment.
2.- Niyama (Personal Principles)
They are the individual disciplines and attitudes towards oneself.
- Saucha: means “purity” or “cleanliness”. Both external and internal. In addition to maintaining a healthy body and the environment, a balanced diet and pure thoughts are also added.
- Santosha: it is the precept of satisfaction. Feel content with what we have and adopt a kinder attitude towards what we can not change (It is not about not trying or using this concept as an excuse for “not doing”).
- Tapas: can be understood as “burn” and its use refers to self-discipline. It means to live life with enthusiasm and develop our resolutive capacity. Have the courage to face problems and not stay in the “comfort” of pleasant situations. To eliminate impurities from the body and mind Tapas demands self-discipline and persistence. Asana and pranayama are a form of tapas.
- Swadhyaya: it is self-knowledge, the study of oneself. Daily discipline that includes reflection, recollection and observation of ourselves. Studying and nurturing books that help spiritual development and release our potential is a way to work this interiority.
- Isvara pranidhara: it is surrender and detachment. Free the yogi from worldly desires. His practice seeks that the action comes from authentic love and that these are offered to the Divine (call God, Totality, etc …)
Asana means pose or posture . Asanas are specific positions of the body that clean energy channels and balance the flow of energy in the body, generating physical, mental and emotional stability.
The asanas should be made with full awareness and effortlessly, looking calm and comfort, and holding a firm and steady breathing rate.
By controlling the body, the mind is controlled; Asanas are tools to access higher states of consciousness. They act in a somatic-psychic way: from the body to the mind.
Perfection is achieved in asana when it ceases in effort, and relaxation is obtained while maintaining stability and awareness.
The word Prana means energy. Cosmic energy, individual energy, intellectual energy: all of them are prana. Prana is universal and permeates every individual as well as the Universe on all levels.
Everything that vibrates in the Universe is prana: heat, light, gravity, vigor, potency, vitality, breath and spirit; they are all forms of prana.
Prana is the energy that moves life. Pranayama , or control of the breath, is the heart of yoga. His practice connects breathing and consciousness, increasing our vitality. Therefore, the word pranayama means expansion of prana or vital energy.
The techniques of pranayama use the breath to influence the flow of prana in the nadis or energy channels of the pranamaya kosha or energetic body.
The breathing consists of four parts:
- Puraka: inhalation
- Rechaka: exhalation
- Antarana Kumbhaka: Retention of inhalation.
- Bahya Kumbhaka: Retention of the exhalation.
Withholdings are the most important part of pranayamas. All movements, including breathing, create fluctuations in the mind.
When the breathing stops, a state of “pause” is experienced and access to deeper levels of consciousness.
The veil that covers the intelligence is flowed and the light penetrates vigorously in the deepest parts of the Being
It is to retract or “dominate” the senses. When the mind is able to dominate the senses, the external stimuli that make us live in scattered thoughts diminish and, at that moment, the mind is able to look inwards thus working in the internal search.
With the work of this step you can advance to the next steps of the yoga path.
SIgnifica concentration. It alludes to the ability to direct the mind to a fixed point and keep it there. It is the previous step for steps seven and eight.
Dhyana means meditation. When firmly held dharana, it evolves into dhyana. The flow of attention becomes regular and continuous.
In dhyana the psychological and chronological time stops and the mind observes its own behavior.
It is a contemplative state, in which attention goes from unidirectional to non-directional.
Samadhi means total absorption.
When the object of meditation absorbs the meditator, the consciousness of oneself is lost.
This union of subject and object is samadhi. The fluctuations of the mind cease and a uniform flow of consciousness is experienced, which pervades the five koshas or envelopes, which have been purified and only reflect the light of the soul.
Practice (abhyasa) and detachment or renunciation (vairagya) are the means to stop the movements of consciousness. The practice is the positive aspect of yoga, and involves yama, niyama, asana and pranayama.
The involutive path of renunciation involves pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi.