ashtanga yoga

Ashtanga Yoga of Maharishi Patanjali, the core basis of Yoga 
 
                                                        

Yoga Sutras are the ancient Indian texts of medieval era, composite of different traditions, codification of long-established theory and practice by Maharashi Patanjali which recent addition to the Yoga-Literature are going back to the Vedas (1500 BC). It got revived in west and the world over in 20th Century. It is a foundation of Classic Yoga. Hatha yoga is contained in Patanjali Yoga as the Pranayama, Meditation and the Postures are main constituents of Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga also aims at attainment of Raja Yoga. Literally, ‘Ha’ means the Seer, the Soul, the Sun and the Prana (in-breath); whereas ‘Tha’ means nature (Prakrti), the consciousness (citta), the Moon (Manah or mind) and Apana (outbreath). Yoga means union or integration that integrates Ha and Tha i.e. integration of Soul and Prana with Nature, Consciousness and Moon (Mind). Patanjali Yoga is thus most comprehensive and updated system of Yoga.

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Yoga Sutras are categorised in 4 Padas or Chapters – Samadhi, Sadhana, Vibhuti & Keivalya.

  1. Samadhi Pada: It is a stage of in-depth focused Mind wherein the practice of yoga finds one completely involved towards the self-realization and liberation of soul. To begin with, in 2nd Sutra or Chapter of Yoga Sutra, the purpose and definition of YogaYogas Citta Vriti Nirodha” is given that Yoga results in stopping of bumps and jumps or disturbances of the mind. Most of the times one or another kind of Vriti keeps on transmitting in our mind. It is after attaining the first 7 Angas of Ashtanga Yoga that one reaches this last 8th Anga Samadhi.

  2. Sadhana Pada: Means devoted efforts or tapa which is consistent, focussed, detached and selfless hard-work that bring discipline and excellence to life. This aspect is Kriya Yoga aimed for the liberation of soul and self-realization by practice of 8 limbs of yoga known as Ashtanga Yoga.

     Another aspect is Karma Yoga such as the advice of Lord Krishna to Arjuna in Ch.2, verse 47 of Bhagawad Gita “योगःकर्मसुकौशलम् – Yagah Karmashu Kausalam” the practice of which takes one to liberation by way of discharge of responsibilities. Doer of such Tapa or Karma Yoga isknown as Karma-Yogi who stands detached from its fruits.

     Tapa is necessary in every stage of life to enjoy balanced fruits of life. Parents devoting adequate time for the growth of their kids find them responsive and successful. Parents lost in their pleasures and desires find their children aimless and lacking smooth progress in life. On the other hand, excessive care and time for children makes them lazy and dependent. At the childhood stage, they observe their parents minutely and they generally replicate when grown.  They behave with them like their parents behaved with their aged parents. However, such challenges sometimes make the children great. By thoughtful actions or Free-Will under Kiryaman Karma, the meritorious and extraordinary actions of children improve such irregularities in shaping their Destiny the way they think and plan. Such children work selflessly without bothering fruits of their Karma like getting any benefits from their parents.

     Another aspect is Non-Karma (Akarma) which has no existence of its own. This Non-Karma will change into Good-Karma (Sakarma) or Bad-Karma (Vikarma) according to place, time and situations. For example, if his wife is speaking bitterly or ill-treating his aged-parents and he is just silently observing without any reaction, then this Non-Karma will change into Bad-Karma (Vikarma). On the other hand, if grand-parents stopped their grand-children from doing some mistake and their father remained just silent. Here such Non-Karma will change into Good-Karma (Sakarma). Only these Karmas make or break one’s Destiny.

  1. Vibhuti Pada: It is attainment of super natural power, perfection or Sidhi by way of last 3 Angas of Ashtanga Yoga namely Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. This is a stage after control or discipline of breath is achieved through 4th Anga Pranayam as a link to Meditation. Dharana provides for taking power and energies inside from the external objects or areas which when consolidated within and integrated by focussed attention or Dhyana result into deep meditation or Samadhi. However, the misuse of Sidhi attained from Vibhuti should be avoided. Such misuse is an obstruction in attainment of liberation or self-realization and purpose of Samadhi is liberation of conscious or soul from the circle of life and death.

  1. Kaivalya Pada: It is ultimate liberation or emancipation from the bondage of life and death also known as Moksha. It is also the ultimate aim of Ashtanga Yoga. Vedas teach human beings to be fearless as the cowards do not get Moksha. A coward fears misfortune, unknown things and everything. In terms of Karma Theory, one is born as part of a properly conceived and designed planning of The Supreme as HIS reincarnation, to do actions or Karma and bear the fruits of our actions. We are to get hold of the fear and fight it out for attaining Moksha. With this birth came the accumulated (Sanchit) Karma for neutralizing the balance of the Karma before Moksha is achieved. The present Karma is linked to the past and the future Karmas, which is divided in four categories in terms of its nature i.e. Dharma (religion), Artha (material), Kama (desires) and Moksha (emancipation) which in Astrology are seen from various Houses of the horoscope. Dharma is seen from 5th House (Purva Janma or Past life Karma) which shows balance karma from our past life. Similarly, 9th House (Present life Karma) indicates what Karma we will be performing in the present life and also link to the future life. It is interesting correlation that 5th from 5th House is 9th House and 9th from 9th House is 5th House.

Karmas are further divided into four categories in terms of periods of births:  

  1. Sanchita Karma: It is sum total of entire accumulated Karmas including already performed whose results are awaited and the Karmas allotted for this life. Lord Krishna in Bhagawada Gita advises that our task is to perform actions by remaining detached from its results. Thus, Sanchita Karma links us to the Fate or Destiny that came to us at the time of our birth, in the name of Prarabdha Karma.

  2. . PrarabdhaKarma: It is present Karma which out of accumulated Sanchita Karma allotted for performing in this life. This way, when one starts performing, Sanchit Karma gets linked to this present Prarabdha Karma as he has to reap the result of previous Karmas.

  3. Kiryamaan Karma: It is performed afresh in the present time, independent of the Prarabdha Karma. It also constitutes Free-Will where one can exert oneself by virtue of one’s meritorious actions and attain any heights in life and shape one’s Destiny. On the other hand, this Free-Will, by one’s sinful actions, can wipe out and exhaust previous Karma. It is an opportunity with the individual to rise or fall.

  4. Aagami Karma: It is future Karma or actions that will be performed in future and are being contemplated now in the present.

Thus cycle of cause and effect of Karma goes on from life to life and its complete neutralization only can result into Moksha or freedom from the bondages of all births. It is also in line with Newton’s theory or 3rd law of motion “to every action, there is equal and opposite reaction”.

8 Limbs of Yoga

Ashta means eight while Anga means the Limb. Limbs 1 (Yama) to 5 (Pratyaharah) are described under Sadhana Pada whereas Limbs 6 (Dharana) to 8 (Samadhi) are described under Vibhuti Pada.

The founder of modern Indian Yoga, Maharashi Patanjali gave Ashtanga Yoga in his “Yoga Sutras” around the time of Christ. The Yoga Sutras concentrates on the reaching Samadhi through meditative practice and thus the chief practice of Raja Yoga is Meditation.

Ashtanga Yoga is Raja-Yoga also called the “royal road” offers a comprehensive method for controlling the waves of thought by turning our mental and physical energy into spiritual energy. It includes all other methods which helps one to control body, energy, senses and mind. In the beginning, in 2nd Sutra of Sadhana Pada, Patanjaligave definition of YogaYogas Citta Vriti Nirodha” i.e. stopping of bumps and jumps or disturbances of the mind.

Isvarah: As explained in Sutra 24-26 of Samadhi Pada of Yoga Sutra of Maharishi Patanjali, the God or Isvarah is the spiritual man free from hindrances, bondage to works, and the fruition and seed of works. The Soul of the Master, the Lord, is of the same nature as the soul of human beings and remains untouched and free from klesa like pain, deeds, reward and desire. However, the humans still bear the burden of many evils, remain in bondage through their former works, and remain under the dominance of sorrow. Isvara was the Guru of all ancient seekers and remains the Guru of all seekers of spiritual knowledge without any limits of time.

Kriya Yoga: To bring about the state of Samadhi and to attenuate pains / miseries, Kriya Yoga is practiced.  – Sutra 11 of Sadhana Pada 2 of Yoga Sutra. All efforts made by the body, speech and mind are known as Karma (Deed / Kriya) and when performed regularly for long time are known as Samskaras (impressions). The impressions of Karma are rooted in the five miseries (klesas) i.e. Kama (sensual pleasure or sex), Krodha (anger), Lobha (greed), Moha (attachment), Andhakara (ignorance). These give fruits to the doers of Karma / deeds in the present visible birth and the future invisible birth. In terms of Karma theory, the fruits of Karma impressions devolve in the form of caste, age and consumable things.

The Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yogafrom Yoga Sutras of Maharishi Patanjali, are listed below: 

  1. YAMA (Responsibilities towards others):The five Yamas listed in Yoga Sutra 2.30 are the self-restraints as moral imperatives or responsibilities of an individual towards others. In the welfare of individual and the society, Yamas are the strong foundations for achieving aims of our life. The 5 Yamas are:                                                         i) Ahiṃsa: It is 1st Yama and abstain from violence, harming or otherwise troubling other living beings for one’s selfish motive, any ill will or otherwise. Doing violence yourself, asking some one to do it or approving it in any way is violence. But troubling or punishing others is not violence when it is for their help, welfare or safeguarding their interest. In such situation it becomes our duty. Punishing dacoits and criminals by Judges is not violence but their duty. Similarly, asking their children to work hard and sometimes being hard is not violence but duty of parents for the welfare of their children.                                                                                                                ii) Satya: It is 2nd It is not just speaking or abstain from falsehood. It includes thinking, speaking and doing in a truthful way. In actual life, it is not easy to follow truth. Our basic nature is truthfulness which need not remember, whereas we have to manipulate and remember false things. One should speak and act what one thinks is a truthful and disciplined way of life. This self-restraint brings purity of action or karma resulting in self-realization. Truthfulness is God and existence of God is a Truth. Therefore, God resides with truth and HIS blessings are always with truthful people. But it is not truth to speak rude and wicked things to deliberately hurt someone like calling handicapped person by one’s physical disability or calling mad to a mad person. Truth is evergreen, constant and in the welfare of everyone that ultimately wins.                                                                                                      iii)Asteya: It is 3rd It is opposite of Steya. Steya means stealing or snatching something on which you have no right. Stealing is not only of money and material things but also of time and right of living including animals and other living beings. Using someone’s time by force or depriving someone from their rights also comes under Asteya. Our family, social, business, political and other spheres are equally covered for their proper and fair working.                                                                  iv) Brahmacarya: It is 4th Yama. Chastity,marital fidelity or sexual restraint, discipline of senses and mind are included in it. This is the time when we so much need physical, mental and spiritual strength. Our life style, food habits and environment need attention. However, the ongoing progress in the areas of welfare, physical and mental health, spiritual strength and confidence are due to the existence Brahmacharya in our life.                                                                                                                                                                                                    v) Aparigraha: It is 5thParigraha means keep accumulating and possessing whether needed or not. It is opposite of Parigraha and means non-avarice & non-possessiveness. It is human nature since time immemorial to keep things stored even beyond one’s needs. It creates scarcity and destabilises the distribution system and encourages undue profiteering. These days most people are after earning money and materials by any means and are inclined to do many mistakes and even unlawful activities. But we are unable to care and attend ourselves and our family for whom we are accumulating this wealth. Money earned from unfair means does not proves to be of any noble use, rather it sometimes proves to be a curse for which the earner and its users face many difficulties. Further, in this over-occupied world, it is almost rare when we spend time for ourselves and our people. Such accumulated wealth creates many enemies as its thieves and thus it is of no good and even food accumulated in our body becomes our enemy in the form of many diseases. Therefore, it is Yogic life and regular practice of Yoga that provides happiness and good health to us and our family. We need to earn by Tapa and by performing Karma to have the desired fruits.

  2. NIYAMA (Duties towards ourselves): After 5-Yamas as the 1st stair and foundation of life, it is the 2nd stair of Niyamas in the welfare of self, for our disease-free body and healthy mind, by keeping them clean and pious. This discipline makes our life purposeful. It requires our self-made controls like traffic controls for avoiding a complete traffic jam. It includes our duty towards ourselves or virtuous habits, behaviours and observances (the “dos”) under Sadhana Pada, Verse 32 of Yogasutra. Niyamas are given below:                                                                                                                                                                                                   i) Sauca: It is 1st Sauca means cleanliness and purity of body, mind and speech. It may be divided into external cleaning and internal purity. We take bath and do regular yogic asanas to keep our body clean and healthy. Similarly, we keep our house and vehicles etc. clean by their regular care and maintenance. Sometimes we forget about internal cleaning or purity of our mind by restraining ourselves from sensual desires, evils, greed, hatred and back-biting about others. These spoil our brain and mind. Internal cleaning requires us to have respect, affection, cooperation and feeling of welfare for others. It is possible by way of introspection and faith in the Supreme Creator.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ii) Santosa: It is 2nd Santosa means contentment or happily accepting of our present state of affairs or circumstance as they are and also acceptance of others and their circumstances as they are. It certainly does not mean accepting failures and unpleasant situations without doing any Karma. Accepting the present state of affairs will help in assessing oneself and others for improving them, sharpen our determination and perform with best of our capacity, neither less nor more than our capacity. We feel discontentment (Non-Santosa) if we focus on results, by performing lesser or more than our capacity, which is not in keeping with the spirit of Yoga. We are to focus on our Karma and not its results or expectations for the results.

When we get results, if more than our capacity we feel much happy and if less we feel disappointed, which disturbs our focus on Karma. Karma-Yogi simply does actions and has firm faith in HIS Karma-System. He simply performs with dedication and honesty and never gets disappointment.

   iii) Tapas: It is 3rd It is determined hard work for the discipline of body and brain. The determined, consistent, focussed, detached and selfless hard-work brings discipline and excellence to life. The brain and body of Karma-Yogi get trained for facing any difficult situations without consideration of any results. Tapa of body or brain is for becoming useful and not merely as a wasteful exercise just to display one’s capacity by facing any type of physical hardships. It simply prepares one for doing one’s best when required.

      Similarly, Tapa of Tongue is a discipline in avoiding speaking of evil words and choosing proper language for the proper time and situations. If we want to improve upon someone’s faults, then as a discipline of tongue we may share it alone separately.

      Tapa of brain is harder than the Tapas of body and tongue. With its practice, one remains same or untouched in diverse situations of sadness and happiness, loss and gain, respect and disrespect. It does not affect one or make one excited in favourable situations and depressed in difficult situations.

   iv) Svadhyaya: It is 4th It is study of quality and spiritual literature like Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Gita, Bible, Koran. It is also study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self’s thoughts, speeches and actions. It removes doubts and provides clarity on various issues. It enhances the strength of brain in analysing both favourable and unfavourable points. We should not accept something merely because it is given in some book. We may check and clarify whether it stands the test of logical reasoning. There are books of various standards. Some books need to be swallowed, others need to be read whereas only a few need to be digested.

   v) Isvarapraṇidhana: It is 5th Niyama. The noble universal principles continue since its creation. Human beings, animals, plantation, earth, sky and everything has been going on smoothly for centuries. There is certainly some Supreme Creator or Ishwara (God/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality) that provides all this and behind all this smooth working. We must appreciate it and have faith in   HIS system and its working. All is HIS and we came empty-handed on this earth. Lord Krishna suggests that we simply do our actions or Karma in a   focussed and perfect way and rest leave on HIM. We must politely and with all humility surrender everything to HIM for his complete discretion. He is very broad minded and always gives everything even without asking anything in return.

  1. ASANAS (postures):This is the 3rdLimb of Ashtanga Yoga.Asana means posture. “Yoga Sthirasukhama Asanam” – Sutra No. 46, Sadhana Pada of Yogadarsana of Maharishi Patanjali. It is that posture of body in which we feel stable and comfort for a period of time, staying relaxed. This posture is for one yogic practice. For example, practising Sirsasana, Pawan-Muktasana or Pranayama in Sukhasana for a duration of say 5 minutes or more. In a posture, 1st part is to remain firm or motionless and 2nd part is to feel relaxed and do not feel any difficulty. As we grow in age, our strength and flexibility goes down due to our life style and worldly problems. It creates stress which changes our basic nature to unhappiness and something is necessary to make us happy and stress-free. Asanas have biochemical, psycho-physiological and psycho-spiritual effects. Cells of body with their intelligence and memory improve blood circulation, exit toxins, stimulate nervous system and balance hormone system. Practice of Asanas restores the stability and comforts which coupled with Pranayam and Meditation are the natural remedies in making us happy, stress-free and attaining harmony. With asanas, the body (tamasik by nature) attains the level of vibrant mind (rajasik by nature) and both together attain the level of consciousness (satavik by nature).

Asanas are different from just physical exercise. Physical exercise is generally tiring as against getting relaxed after yoga asanas. Asanas are free from competition or feeling of defeat or win. Asanas provide optimum benefit when practiced with closed eyes, detached from outside world, feeling within the activities and their impact. The practitioner is completely lost within and enjoys the changes taking place in body, mind and conscious. It helps in practice of Pranayama (discipline of breath), Pratyahara (withdrawing from outside world), dharana (integration of body, mind and consciousness) and meditation (deep concentration and getting lost within). due to being in these stages for a shorter duration. Asanas, Kriyas or postures may be divided into three main categories:

    i) Relaxation postures, mainly practiced while lying on back and stomach

    ii) Meditational postures, mainly practiced while sitting

    iii) Strength and stability postures mainly practiced while standing

5. PRANAYAMA (restraining or discipline of breath):This is the 4th Limb of Ashtanga Yoga.Pranayama or Deep Breath is made out of two Sanskrit words Prana(प्राण or breath)and Ayama (आयाम or restraining, extending, stretching). It is discipline or control of breath. Pranayama in itself is a complete therapy for treatment of almost 80% of common diseases like obesity, sugar, blood-pressure, asthma and heart-diseases. Proper daily practice of Pranayama for about 45 minutes provides effective results. Pranayama eliminates toxins and is an effective remedy for all diseases or Dosas – Vata (wind), Pitta (bile) and Kapha (phlegm).

After a desired posture (Asana) has been achieved, verses 49 to 51 of Sadhana Pada recommend the next limb of yoga, the Praṇayama, which is the practice of consciously regulating breath (inhalation and exhalation).This is done in several ways, inhaling and then suspending exhalation for a period, exhaling and then suspending inhalation for a period, slowing the inhalation and exhalation, consciously changing the time/length of breath (deep, short breathing).

Proper practice of asanas helps in eradicating duality between body cells, senses, mind and consciousness. Therefore, asanas are necessary for having optimum benefits from Pranayama. Faulty practice of Pranayama results in all type of diseases. Asanas provide complete benefit to bones when done with pranayama. Pranayama provides optimum benefit when practiced with closed eyes, detached from outside world, feeling within the activities and their impact while enjoying the changes within due to the stability of body and brain. It is only after properly practising Pranayama that entire system is rejuvenated and then Chitta-Vriti-Nirodh helps in meditation and Samadhi for ultimate salvation. It enhances one’s consciousness, focus and concentration.

For uniform and smooth practice of Pranayama, it may be practiced in the beginning or at the end of Yoga Session just before Meditation.For Pranayama practice, the postures commonly used are Dhyanasana in either Sukhasana, Vajrasana or Padmasana followed by Gyan Mudra (tips of index finger & thumb touching each other), Dhyan Mudra (eyes closed gently) and Maha-Pran-Dhawani. In the initial stages, this is done by developing awareness of the “flow of in-breath and out-breath” through nostrils, mouth and other body openings, its internal and external pathways and destinations.Later, this phenomenon is modified, through regulated, controlled and monitored inhalation (swasa) leading to the awareness of the body space getting filled (puraka), the space(s) remaining in a filled state (kumbhaka) and it getting emptied (rechaka) during regulated, controlled and monitored exhalation (praswasa).

Awareness of Breath or Life-Force – Union of Body, Brain and Soul: Prana is a self-rejuvenating force. Breath fans and fuses the two opposing elements of nature i.e. fire and water resulting in production of Prana. Prana helps in spiritual attainment by neutralizing the fluctuations of mind. Breathing is the unique connection between physical consciousness and the divinity.Ever going continuous changes in us are due to breathing. Therefore, first of all we need to make efforts to discipline, control and change the breathing to the required level. The transformative power of yoga leads to realization. Pranayama helps in developing awareness of one’s breathing followed by wilful regulation of respiration as the functional or vital basis of one’s existence. It helps in developing awareness of one’s mind and helps to establish control over the mind.

Proper practice of asanas helps in eradicating duality between body cells, senses, mind and consciousness. Therefore, asanas are necessary for having optimum benefits from Pranayama. Faulty practice of Pranayama results in all type of diseases. Asanas provide complete benefit to bones when done with pranayama. Pranayama provides optimum benefit when practiced with closed eyes, detached from outside world, feeling within the activities and their impact while enjoying the changes within due to the stability of body and brain. It is only after properly practising Pranayama that entire system is rejuvenated and then Chitta-Vriti-Nirodh helps in meditation and Samadhi for ultimate salvation. It enhances one’s consciousness, focus and concentration.

When the Nadis have become purified, certain external signs appear on the body of the Yogi. They are lightness of the body, brilliancy in complexion, increase of the gastric fire, leanness of the body, and along with these, the absence of restlessness in the body. They are all signs of purification.

  1. PRATYAHARAH (drawing closer to Self &withdrawing from external world): This is the 5th Limb of Ashtanga Yoga.Pratyahara is combination of two Sanskrit wordsprati-(प्रति- towards) and ahara (आहार – bring near, fetch).Pratyahara is fetching and bringing near one’s awareness and one’s thoughts to within. It is a process of withdrawing one’s thoughts from external objects, things, person, situation. It is turning one’s attention to one’s true self, one’s inner world, experiencing and examining self.It is a step of self-extraction and abstraction. Pratyahara is not just consciously closing one’s eyes to the sensory world, it is consciously closing one’s mind processes to the sensory world. It is withdrawal of energy from the senses consciously. Pratyahara empowers one to stop being controlled by the external world, fetch one’s attention to seek self-knowledge and experience the freedom innate in one’s inner world.

Pratyahara marks the transition of yoga experience from first four limbs that perfect external forms to last three limbs that perfect inner state, from outside to inside, from outer sphere of body to inner sphere of spirit.

Pratyahara may be practiced during routine yoga sessions. When doing any asana/ posture and getting stable in it, with closed eyes feeling the activities within completely dissociated from external world, it is pratyahara. Practice of Pranayama dissociates one from the external world resulting in Pratyahara. Simple inhale-exhale for complete focus on incoming and outgoing breath by counting of breath is another way of practice of Pratyahara. Its advance version “Dirgha-Swas-Preksha” is most effective in attaining it. Similarly, while lying in Savasana one is lying on spine, one finds the muscles of body relaxed and then with slow-smooth breathing takes one to next stage of getting relaxed or withdrawn from the world. Further, deeper withdrawal of senses is the subtle withdrawal that one feels blissful while experiencing pratyahara.

  1. DHARANA (consolidating, integrating & minute examination): This is the 6th Limb of Ashtanga Yoga which means that it can be accomplished only after properly following the previous five limbs. Until the state of Pratyahara (withdrawing from the external & sensory world and drawing into Self) is achieved, Dharna cannot be attained properly.

Dharana means to tie or fix the mind at a particular spot for detailed and minute examination, concentration and sharpness of mind. It is preparation for the next 7th Limb Dhyana by consolidating and integrating our body and mind on a particular object or topic.

Its procedure and practice include holding one’s mind on a particular inner state, subject or topic of mind whether inside or outside the body. The mind is fixed on ajna-chakra (centre of eyebrows), tip of nose, breath at nostrils, navel-centre or nabhi-chakra, crown of the head, or an object like flower one wants to observe, or a concept or on idea in one’s mind.Fixing the mind means one-pointed focus, without drifting of mind, and without jumping from one topic to another. Try to concentrate fully and constantly devoid of any fantasy or emotions. One will ultimately find that the mind is tied or held up at that particular object or spot. It will give a distinct realization of oneself, of the thing chosen as the object of Dharana and the process of Dharana.

  1. DHYANA (Contemplation and meditation):This is the 7th Limb of Ashtanga Yoga.Dhyana(ध्यान – contemplation, reflection, profound, abstract meditation).It is contemplating or reflecting on whatever Dharana has concentrated upon. If Dharana was on an object, then Dhyana is observation of that object without any presumptions or judgment of anything regarding the object. If an idea was the being concentrated under Dharana, then all its aspects and details are being minutely contemplated under Dhyana. Continuity of realization is maintained on the object or topic of Dharana after mind has been stabilized and firmly tied to it i.e. stability of Dharana is continued.

Dhyana is integrally related to Dharana as one leads to another. Dharana is a state of mind, whereas Dhyana is the process of mind. Dhyana is distinct from Dharana in that the meditator becomes actively engaged with its focus. Patanjali defines contemplation (Dhyana) as the mind process, where the mind is fixed on something, and then there is “a course of uniform modification of knowledge”. Dhyana from Dharana may be distinguished. Dhyana is the yoga state when there is only the stream of continuous thought about the object, uninterrupted by other thoughts of different kind for the same object. On the other hand, Dharana is focused on one object, but aware of its many aspects and ideas about the same object. In Dharana there is separate consciousness of the three namely practitioner himself, the object of Dharana and the process of Dharana. When the state of Dharana gets intense, then the consciousness of the process of Dharana ceases whereas the practitioner continues to be conscious of himself and the object of Dharana.

  1. SAMADHI (Dissolution of Self into Self, Consciousness or Moksha):This is the 8th Limb of Ashtanga Yoga.Samadhi(समाधि – Joining, union, harmonious whole). Samadhi, the oneness with the subject of meditation, is the subjective science of liberation. Pratyahara (withdrawing from external objects and coming closed to Self), Dharana (concentration, consolidation or minute observation) and Dhyana (contemplation or abstract meditation) all are forms and levels of meditation. The practitioner can only feel and experience them. Mind clouds Self or consciousness like the bark of a tree covering the branches of tree. Self is like a seed sprouting from the Self a seeding from a seed. Citta or consciousness is prone to continuous changes or movements for which the path for its stability is discipline of breath by practice of Pranayama. Further, the breath disciplines mind and it results in restraint of Citta or consciousness. Consciousness is pure in nature. Channeling of energy is done easily than the restraint on fluctuations of mind by pranayama with awareness which help in withdrawing senses from matter. It is union of mind and Self wherein mind dissolves into consciousness. For Prakriti (nature) to be fully dissolved into Supreme Brahma, the consciousness dissolves into nature by merging into cosmic intelligence. Thus intelligence and mind get merged into Self which is the Aim of Samadhi or deep Meditation.

 During Samadhi there is no distinction between the meditator, the act of meditation and the subject of meditation. Samadhi is that spiritual state when one’s mind is so absorbed in whatever it is contemplating on, that the mind loses the sense of its own identity. The thinker, the thought process and the thought fuse with the subject of thought. There is only oneness or Samadhi.