Patanjali was a great scholar of ancient India. We still do not know his exact dates, some believe he lived before Christ and some a little after Christ. He wrote a book on grammar, to discipline the speech. A second monumental work on medicine to help us take care of the body. Finally, he wrote a masterpiece to show us how to control the mind, the Yoga Sutra , in 195 short sentences or aphorisms.
It is said that without Patanjali Yoga would have been lost today. “If you can not understand Patanjali, you will not understand Yoga, even by mastering all the available literature on Yoga.” The Yoga Sutra is not a yoga practice manual. It deals with the philosophy of Yoga and the relationship with the student; that is, means and methods for all types of students, from the beginner to the most advanced.Remember to ask your Yoga teacher to tell you about Patanjali’s work! Here is a brief explanation of the first Sutra, which is an answer to the following question: What is the definition of Yoga and why should we use this technique?
YOGA IS THE CONTROL OF THE MODIFICATIONS OF THE SPIRIT
According to the Samkhya philosophy, on which Yoga Sutra is grafted, the 3 constituents of matter, which are Sattwa (purity, harmony, lucidity), Rajas (energy, passion) and Tamas(inertia and darkness), form the spirit. They are responsible for all mental modifications or activities, whether positive or negative. This means, for example, that these constituents create distractions and impose limits on the individual; when Sattwa in our personality is just not present enough or Tamas is too much. We often listen to the dark side inside us more than light or reason.
These are the 3 components of the Ego, ie they also correspond to different aspects of the personality. We think we have a clear and focused mind, full of energy on Monday, but on Tuesday we feel tired and depressed, because of all the energy used the day before and no goal can more clearly appear … We all known this state of mind and such feelings. These feelings, this instability, are the results of the modifications of the mind. They can become very heavy for the individual and create chronic sadness, from repeated fatigue, to mental illness because of its uncontrollable and repetitive nature. Patanjali proposes here to stop this infinite process, to come out of suffering by sincerely practicing Yoga. C ‘ so is the control of changes in the unstable mind. Our mind becomes stronger when practicing. The different techniques, step by step as a way of life, are developed in the second part of the book:
1. Yama and Niyama : Yamas are a set of constraints such as non-violence (physical and mental), living the truth (towards others and oneself), not stealing, staying constant, not coveting. The Niyamas are a set of things to observe, such as purity (body and mind), contentment, strength, self-study, relying on the fathers or models of our lives. As we said in our previous post, yoga does not mean to forbid oneself. In our life, it is enough to be and to feel a good human. Thus, Niyamas are much more important.
2. Asana : It is the training of the body and the mind through physical and mental postures. It is a very rigorous and methodical practice, ending automatically with a prolonged moment where all the organs are at rest. Because being healthy is a duty. Without a trained and trained body, the yogi can not move forward, he can not achieve the following techniques or steps and will experience pain by experiencing these next steps.
3. Pranayama: Or the regulation of bioenergy. Through breathing exercises, by controlling the airways and the nervous system, we become stable. We begin to understand much better the activities, the changes, the inside and the link between the consciousness of the body and that of the mind. Energy is in each of us. Do you ever have your back to a door and yet feel that someone is hiding behind? It’s the energy of the body that you feel. Or someone enters a room you do not know. And yet, as soon as she has passed the door something has changed …
4. Pratyahara : If the other stages of physiological activities are well harmonized and under control, then we can practice this one of bridging the gap between body and mind. Through psychosomatic exercises, by the process of abstraction. This consists of relaxation, centralization, visualization, dissociation, the set of processes created to free us from environmental, emotional, and sensual distractions. By distraction we mean anything that brings suffering and prevents happiness.
5. Dharana and Dhyana : This stage, which depends on all others, is the meditation that serves to attain higher levels of consciousness. We will come back to this practice later.
6. Samadhi: Or silent state. The yogi remains insensitive to physical and mental afflictions, knows eternal peace. All of these practices are called by Patanjali Ashtanga Yoga, ie, Yoga in 7 steps.
What should we remember here? This is because each step or technique can not be followed without the others. In this way, it is useful to always keep in mind the first of the virtues of the first step: The practice of ‘Ahimsa’ or ‘non-violence’ discipline, whether the violence is actually caused or is caused to be done by others, or may be made by others, or is the result of desire or anger or ignorance or even sweet or intense. All types of violence outside and inside should be avoided, at least identified and addressed. The discipline of non-violence is like a key that will open all other doors and take the student to the next steps without much effort, if and only if the practice of non-violence becomes natural. She brings a quiet and easy life into society. It is to be nice with the stranger and with oneself. This can be thought of until one does not steal someone’s peace of mind because it is a form of violence.