Eight Principles of Yoga

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Eight Principles of Yoga

Pantanjali, often called the father of yoga? compiled his knowledge of yoga in his book 'Yog Sutra' in which, he mentioned eight principles of yoga, also famous as Eightfold Path of Yoga?. These principles were guidance as to how an individual should practice yoga in order to get the maximum output. Patanjali described these principles in the form of sutras in his book. There are 195 sutras in his creation, which guides you towards the attainment of enlightenment. The eight principles include: yamas, niyamas, asans, pranayama, pratyahara, dharna, dhyana and samadhi.

1) Yamas: Yamas are self-captivity. It tells about the right relationship, harmony, non- violence, and truth. Yama includes five factors in it.
Ahimsa: Ahimsa stands for non-violence. It says not to harm anyone in any sense. Ahimsa is promoting the constructive thinking and avoiding the destructive ones. One should ignore anger, selfishness, and fear and follow the path of love, patience and harmony.
Satya: Satya means truth. One should be truthful to others as well as to him. You should respect the truth and should be honest in your thoughts.
Asteya: Asteya says us be generous and selfless. One should grow the internal feeling of completeness and self-sufficiency within him.
Brahmacharya: The knowledge of self-control is called the brahmacharya. You should be moderate to the physical needs such as sex, food, rest etc.
Aparigraha: One should not be possessive to the material aspects of the outer world. One should rely on the basic needs and not the luxurious wants. Aparigraha says to avoid addiction.

2) Niyamas: The art of self-observance is called Niyama. It has five aspects:

Shaucha: It is the cleaning of body and mind. It guides us to take good food, and avoid discrimination of thoughts.
Santosha: Santosha is all about acceptance. One should accept the things happily without any more expectations and utilize those things in the best possible way.
Tapas: Tapas defines the willingness within an individual to achieve the desired goal. One to be determined in his life in whatever he does.
Svadhyaya: Every individual should study the vedic scriptures in order to gain the true knowledge of God and soul. This is the best way of self-analysis and introspection.
Ishvarapranidhana: This says that one should be loyal to god and surrender himself in the worship of God to attain the ultimate spirituality and real meaning of life.

3) Asana: Asanas are the physical postures involved in practicing yoga. These postures help you to keep the body healthy and to preserve as well as generate the energy within the body. Asanas makes the body flexible as well as stable.

4) Pranayama: Pranayama is the art of regulation and control of breathing. It helps in proper circulation of oxygen throughout the body and enhances the lung capacity. It also balances the nervous system of body.

5) Pratyahara: The art of withdrawal of one?s attention from the outside world and giving full attention to the inner self is called pratyahara. We get frustrated with the daily activities of the external world and hence we need to devote time to our inner self to maintain a balance. This enhances the concentration level of an individual as well as ability to think.

6) Dharana: Dharna means concentration. It teaches us to focus on certain things. The basic aim of dharna is to achieve the calmness of mind by filtering the negative thoughts generating in our mind. This induces a positive energy inside us.

7) Dhyana: Dhyana is the meditation without any interruption. There is an interrupted flow of thought in our mind, which connects us to our soul and makes us spiritual.

8) Samadhi: The ultimate goal of a life is to attain samadhi in which we get the absolute blessings of god and there are no desires left in our mind. This is the stage of self-actualization. We feel a sense of unity with god during this.

Patanjali described the eightfold path or eight principles of yoga in order to attain the absolute bliss. But, this is only effective when done together as they are interlinked to each other. Where the first five principles- yama, niyama asana, pranayama, and pratyahara are called the external aids to Yoga (bahiranga sadhana) and necessary to build the foundation for the other principles. The last three, called the internal aids to Yoga (antaranga sadhana) are mainly concerned with the mental aspects and self-realization. 

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