Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice or discipline, which originated in India. (kamalashila 2003 ) based on sanskrit, Yoga means “to unite”. According to Panini, the writer of Yoga Sutra, yoga means Samadhi (concentration). (yoga sutras, Panini). The history of yoga has been speculated to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions, and developed around the sixth and fifth century BCE. (Samuel 2008, P.8)
As described in the yoga sutra of Pantajali, the term Raja yoga refers to Ashtanga Yoga – the eight limbs to be practiced to attain Samadhi. Raja yoga refers to the ultimate goal of yoga, Samadhi.
Ashtanga yoga includes epistemology, metaphysics, ethical practices, systematic exercises and self-development techniques for body, mind and spirit. (Edwin 2001, the yoga sutras of patanjali)
Pantanjali’s writing is the basis for ‘Ashtanga Yoga” also called eight – limbed yoga. The eight limbs are:
- Yama (the disappearance of suppressions)
- Ahimsa – non violence, non-harming other living begins
- Satya – truthfulness, non –telling of lies
- Asteya- non-stealing
- Brahmacharya – accept reality, no judgement, celibacy
- Aparigraha – non- possessiveness
In the following paragraphs, I will focus on the meaning and story of ahimsa and how it affects us on a practical level. The word ahimsa is derived from Sanskrit and means “ not to injure” and “compassion”. It applies to all living beings. “Not to injure” includes ones deeds, words and thoughts. The Vedas contains an interesting moral story about Ahimsa. A wandering monk saw a large snake terrorizing the villagers and making their life difficult. The monk taught the snake about Ahimsa. And the snake took to heart. Next year, the monk saw the snake in village again. The once large snake became skinny and bruised. As the snake no longer struck fear in the villagers, villagers now had the boldness to throw rocks at him. The monk shook his head and said Ahimsa need to be practiced within us also. The moral of the story is to teach us that it is important to protect ourselves, both physically and mentally, from unjustified aggression.
2.Niyama (the freedom from all observances)
- Saucha (purity, clearness of mind, speech and body)
- Santosha (contentment, acceptance of others and of
- Tapas (persistent meditation, perseverance, austerity
- Swadhyaya(union of the divine comes through self- study
- Ishwara-pranidha (workship of god/ Supreme, surrender of there ego or egoless surrender)
The meaning of saucha will be explained in detail below and how it affects our life. Saucha refers to purity of mind, speech and body. It is important to our health, happiness and general well being. Internal purity is through physical exercise including Asana and Pranayama. External purity includes the daily routine of cleaning our body for example. To purify our speech and mind, such as anger, hate, greed, pride, fear, is part of saucha too.
- Asana: steady and comfortable pose. Literally means “seat” in Sanskrit
- Pranayama :”Prana” means breath, and “Ayama” means to restrain or stop. Cessation of breathing and expansion of prana is Pranayama.
- Pratyahara : withdrawal of the sense from object and subjects and moving consciousness inwards
6.Dharana: Fixing the attention on a single object
- Dhyana : Meditation . the uninterrupted thought towards the object to the exclusion of other sensual perception.
- Samadhi: merging consciousness with the object of meditation.
To conclude, the ultimate goal of yoga practitioner is Moksha. Based on my understanding, Moksha is the sense of a “personal self” and the sense of “unlimited spirit and consciousness” is united. It requires yoga practitioners to have an austere, self –disciplined life around the 8 limb of yoga.
Kamalashila (2003) P.4
Samuel 2008, p.8
Edwin Bryant (2001) , the Yoga sutras of Patnajali
Student name : Claudia jiang yuanyuan