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Ashtanga Yoga: Eight Organs of Yoga

Eight organs of Yoga: Yoga has eight organs according to Patanjali Yoga Sutra. The Patanjali Yoga Philosophy states the following organs:

  1. Yama: There are five Yamas is social observences. They are
  2. Ahimsa (Non-violence): There are three types of violence- physical, mental, and verbal violence. If you kill or harm anyone physically, that is physical violence. Harming somebody by speech is verbal violence. Having wrong intentions or negativity for others is mental violence. Abstaining from this violence is the practice of Ahimsa.
  3. Satya (Truthfulness): What you have spoken fulfill it, i.e. your words should be followed by your actions. Speak what is true. This is about honesty to the self as well.
  4. Asteya (Non-stealing): This has a depth concept. Even if you use someone’s product without permission comes under stealing. Having greed for someone’s property is also a subtle form of stealing. Seizing someone’s right is stealing. Abstaining from all these stealing is the practice of Asteya.
  5. Aparigraha (Non-possession): Accumulating excessive worldly materials more than your need blocks you in your spiritual progress. Your mind will get attached to worldly things and you will be busy on these mundane things.
  6. Brahmacharya: The term ‘Brahma’ means God and ‘charya’ means dwelling. Thus dwelling in God is brahmacharya. A question arises- how to dwell in god? Being mentally connected to the god or positive attributes is known as dwelling on God.

Abstaining from sexual activities and sexual thoughts is also said to be Brahmacharya. However, this is possible only when you transform sexual energy into spiritual energy.

  1. Niyama: There are five Niyamas i.e. moral observances. They are
  2. Shauch (purity): There are two types of purity- internal purity and external purity. Internal purity refers to mental purity i.e. free from the negativity in the mind. External purity refers to bodily and surrounding cleanliness.
  3. Santosh (Contentment): Having satisfaction with what you have in life is contentment.
  4. Tapaha: Making a hundred percent effort to achieve your spiritual awakenment and self-development is Tapaha.
  5. Swadhyaya (Study of self): The study of scriptures which helps to realize the self and introspection (review, analysis, and survey of self) is known as Swadhyaya.
  6. Ishwar Pranidhana (Dedication to God): It is devotion or surrender to the ultimate reality of existence. It is about the faith of universal law. 
  • Asana: There are 84,00,000 asana according to Hatha Yoga. They are the physical postures. Static and comfortable position of the body is known as asana.
  1. Pranayama: It is a breathing practice as an instrument of governing prana (vital life force energy). Pranayama is connected with breath or life force. When breath becomes silent, pranayama occurs. When the movement of breath is no more, pranayama happens.
  2. Pratyahara: Control over your sense organs is pratyahara. Five sense organs keep wanting their food. For example- eyes want to see the views just for entertainment which is of no use for self-progress.  Skin just wants sensual pleasure. The tongue wants delicious taste without caring whether the food is healthy or unhealthy. Ears want to listen to various things. The nose wants to smell an odor.  These sense organs do not care about whether the things they are longing for are healthy or not. So it’s you who needs to get mastery over them. Pratyahra is also defined as the withdrawal of the senses.
  3. Dharana: This is the sixth organ of yoga which refers to concentration. The binding of consciousness to a certain point, place, thing, or idea is known as Dharana. “Collection or concentration of the mind” or “the act of holding, bearing, wearing, supporting, maintaining, retaining, keeping back of awareness” are some translations of Dhāraṇā. Dharana is a technique that relaxes the mind. It helps the mind focus attention by removing it from events that cause difficulties. Since yoga calls for concentration on the body, the breath, or even a mantra, it can aid someone in learning the art of Dharana. By engaging in Dharana practice, we can become aware of our mental processes and the thoughts that interrupt us, which eventually results in longer intervals between them over time.
  • Dhyana (Meditation): Dhyana is the seventh limb of yoga. When the duration of Dharana increases over three minutes, it becomes Dhyana. In Sanskrit, Dhyana is composed of two words ‘dhi’- which means mind or consciousness, and ‘yana’- which means flowing or moving. Thus, dhyana can be defined as a constant flow of consciousness or mindfulness. Here flow is directed towards the meditation process. So, it is a nonstop flow. The condition of dhyana is characterized by continuity and steadiness, just as the word flow itself does. The individual loses his sense of touch as he becomes engrossed in the bond he develops with the meditation object.
  • Samadhi: Samadhi is the ultimate and eighth stage of yoga. The term is derived from Sanskrit roots; ‘sam’ means ” organized “, “together” or ” entirely,”  meaning “toward” and ‘dhe’, meaning “put.” Direct translations differ, and analyses stretch from “bliss” to “liberation” or “enlightenment.” It is the highest point of spiritual and intellectual activity. It is also a prerequisite to release samsara (no more cycle of birth and death). In yoga, the state of Samadhi is said to be the union of the individual and universal consciousness. After completing the initial stages of Patanjali’s eightfold path, the practitioner can attain this delightful state of competitive meditative absorption. Samadhi has great spiritual significance since it represents the highest level of union with the Divine and includes self-realization.   

Since the final three stages- Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi- are said to be intricately connected, they are generally referred to as Samyama (integration). Therefore, it is believed that concentration techniques are the way to genuinely contemplative states, which eventually result in samadhi. According to this definition, meditation is a condition of total absorption rather than a thinking or evaluation exercise.

Therefore, it is believed that concentration techniques are the way to genuinely contemplative states, which eventually result in Samadhi. According to this definition, meditation is a condition of total absorption rather than a thinking or evaluating exercise. Samadhi is described as a pleasant, serene mental state in which the practitioner loses the ability to distinguish between the act of meditation and any other sense of self. Upon liberating the self from ego and delusion of separation, Samadhi remains unaffected by sentiments like longing or rage. By connecting practitioners to their actual Self as one with universal consciousness, Samadhi serves this purpose.

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