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Yoga—the ultimate means of all success.


Yoga—the ultimate means of all success.  


Introduction:
Yoga is one of the glorious inventions of human intellect. What is called preventive measure in the science of medicine, Yoga is indeed, the same effective. It has also curative capacity. As a curative measure we take medicine after suffering from disease. But it is better to prevent disease than to cure afterwards. Now the question is—how can we prevent disease?  Another question arises-- does the disease attack only our body, not mind?  With the mounting tension in everyday life, the number of psychiatric patients is growing high. In Sanskrit, mental disease is called ādhi and physical disease is called vyādhi. Almost all of us, more or less, suffer from mental disease. If we think alone for an hour or more, then it is easily understood that we, really are not happy. The very first step of this unhappiness causes mental pressure. There are so many causes of unhappiness. Despite too much effort, we cannot fulfill all our longings in our present day life. We hanker after more wealth, better position, more respect, more comfort, and more acceptability. Gradually our demands become limitless, but we gain less. Thus a huge gap occurs between our demand and gain. Apart from this, pressure in the working place, maladjustment, anxiety, disturbance in personal life, target fulfilling, extravagant life-style etc. are the key factors of mental restlessness. These are common phenomena in our everyday life. We can’t avoid these, but surely we can ease these effectively through the practice of Yoga regularly. If this practice can be continued for a few months without break, then, I assure, a unique feeling will refresh your mind and provide you immense internal energy with which you yourself will be able to modify your life-style and get abundant peace of mind. There is no religious matter related to it. It is just a unique combination of breathing exercise and physical postures. Anybody, irrespective of his or her caste and creed, age, profession, country etc. may practise Yoga.



What is Yoga?
The great sage Pataῆjali said-- ʻयोगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधःʼ।
(Yogaś-citta-vtti-nirodhaʼ--Yogasūtra--I.2).
--‘Yoga is the stilling of changing activities of mind.’
Actually Yoga restrains restless state of mind, brings calmness, controls our fluctuating thought and put our thinking in the right track. This Yoga is the greatest mental strength. The great sage Vyāsadeva said—ʻनास्ति सांख्यसमं ज्ञानं नास्ति योगसमं बलम्.ʼ There is no knowledge other than Sāṃkhya, and there is no strength other than Yoga. Here ‘vṛtti-nirodhaḥʼ means to concentrate the mind to a particular desired target. So, Yoga means to fix the mind on a desired target by regular practice with patience.

Way of stilling the mind (‘citta-vtti-nirodhaʼ):
Pataῆjali said--  अभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां तन्निरोधःʼ
(Abhyāsa-vairāgyābhāṁ tannirodhaḥ-- Yogasūtra I.12)
‘Abhyāsa’ means practice, ‘vairāgya’ means dispassion, renunciation, non-attachment, ‘ tat’ means ‘cittavṛtti’ or states of mind, ‘nirodha’ means restraint, control. Mind is to be controlled or restrained by practice and renunciation.  Śrīkṛśṇa also said in the Gītā—
अभ्यासेन तु कौन्तेय वैराग्येण तु गृह्यते। (abhyāsen tu kaunteya vairāgyeṇ tu gṛhyte’) Gītā-VI.35. Mind is restless and it is hard to curb, but it can be controlled by constant practice and non-attachment or renunciation.  Here practice means ‘the practice of vision to differentiate between right and wrong or between good and bad.’

What is abhyāsa or practice?
According to Pataῆjali--  तत्र स्थितौ यत्नोभ्यासःʼ
(Tatra sthitau yatna abhyāsa)— Yogasūtra I.13
The first element of restraining mind is abhyāsa or practice. Flow of restraint is called sthiti, i.e. steadfastness. For this steadfastness continuous exercise with great effort, vigour and enthusiasm is called ‘abhyāsa’ or practice. Without these no work can be done successfully. In respect of controlling and concentrating the fickle-natured, obstinate mind, more and more effort is necessary. It’s an unhindered continuous process. Even the slightest deviation may foil all the efforts.
The Second element of restraining mind is Vairāgya-- All kinds of renunciation. According to Pataῆjali— ‘दृष्टानुश्रविक-विषयवितृष्णस्य बशीकारसंज्ञा वैराग्यम्।ʼ 
(‘Dṛṣṭānuśravika-viṣaya-vitṛṣṇasya vaśīkārasaṃjῆā.)— Yogasūtra I.15.
Detachment from perceived pleasurable objects (opposite sex, food, drinks, power for which people hanker after) and total command and control over mind is called Vairāgya. It means—absolute renunciation from enjoyment. Probably it is prescribed for the Sannyāsins who renounce all kinds of enjoyment for the sake of liberation of Soul. For the householders it is not applicable. They need not follow it rigorously, but need restraint. 

There are eight limbs of Yoga. These are—Yama, niyama, āsana, prāṇāyāma, pratyāhāra, dhāraṇā, dhyāna and samādhi. Pataῆjali said-- 
यम-नियमासन-प्राणायाम-प्रत्याहार-धारणा-ध्यान-समाधयोष्टावङ्गानि।ʼ
(Yama-niyamāsana-prāṇāyāma-pratyāhāra-dhāraṇā-dhyāna-samādhayo’śṭāvagāṇi)
Yogasūtra —II.29

1.      Yama (restraint)— The first limb of Yoga. It is divided into five parts, i.e. ahiṁsā, satya, asteya, brahmacarya and aparigraha.
 Pataῆjali said—ʻअहिंसा-सत्यास्तेय-ब्रह्मचर्यापरिग्रहा यमाः।ʼ (‘Ahiṁsā-satyāsteya-brahmacaryāparigrahā yamaḥ.’) Yogasūtra —II.30

 Ahiṁsā—nonviolence, Satya—truthfulness, asteya—Not to take other’s belongings without permission, brahmacarya--celibacy, aparigraha—renunciation of unnecessary possession.
Ahiṁsā—It is the root of all yamas. Giving up cruelty to animals, to be friendly to all, not to intimidate others, giving up cruelty, enmity, intention to kill, envy, hatred etc.

Satya—Resort to truth, not falsehood. Truth becomes triumphant not falsehood—
सत्यमेव जयते नानृतम्।ʼ

Asteya—Not to take others’ belongings without their permission--ʻमा गृधः कस्यस्विद्धनम्।ʼ

Brahmacaryacelibacy. For householders it is restraint of senses.  

Aparigraha—Abandonment of self-interest, not to keep in possession more than one’s necessity. In Yogaśāstra these yamas are considered as the great bow (mahābrata) and universal. Without these Yoga practice will not be fulfilled.

2. Niyama (Observance)—The second limb of Yoga. It means Personal discipline and practice. According to Pataῆjali five matters are included in niyama—
शौच-सन्तोष-तपः-स्वाध्यायेश्वरप्रणिधानानि।ʼ
(Śauca-santoṣa-tapaḥ-svādhyāya-īsvarapraṇidhānāni,)— Yogasūtra II.32

Śauca Purification of body and mind. External or Physical purification is caused by regular bath with fresh water, by eating and drinking limited quantity of consecrated things. Alcohol disturbs the mind heavily. Alcoholic persons loose the sight of their best self-interest. So alcohol is strictly prohibited in the Yoga. Internal or mental purification is to be accomplished by giving up jealousy, pride, vanity, hatred etc. and by exuding friendly attitude towards all.

Santoṣa—Contentment. One should be contended by what is earned by honest means of his own. It is the root of all happiness—‘सर्वत्र सम्पदस्तस्य सन्तुष्टं यस्य मानसम्।ʼ It is the best suited way for the householders.

Tapa-- The ability to tolerate physical suffering (hunger and thrust, cold and hot etc.), to endure hardship, and remain firm in uncomfortable situations. 

Svādhyāya— Regular study of prescribed sacred scriptures followed by generation after generation in one’s own lineage.
Those, who are easily overwhelmed by a little bit of sorrow, are not fit for the Yoga. To overcome this they will have to practise the art of endurance and forgiveness. When the body will be painstaking and the mind will not be perverted despite want of bodily happiness, then one becomes fit for the Yoga.

īsvarapraṇidhāṇa—Full devotion to God after offering all the results of activities to Him.

3.  Ᾱsana (Posture)-- ʻस्थिरसुखमासनम्ʼ (sthirasukhaṃ āsanaṃ)— Yogasūtra II.46
Steady and comfortable is the posture. Orderly arrangement of limbs in different ways is called āsana. The principal āsanas are—Padmāsana, Vīrāsana, Bhadrāsana, Svastika, Daṇḍāsana, Gomukhāsana, Dhanurāsana, Bhujaṅgāsana, Sarvaṅgāsana, Śirṣāsana, Sopāśraya, Paryaṅha, Krauῆcaniṣadana, Uṣṭraniṣadana, Yogapaṭṭaka  etc.
In every āsana the spinal cord should be straight. There should not be any trouble in body during the practice of āsana. Have patience in mind. Not all the āsanas are beneficial to everybody. Considering the physical condition and age, suitable āsanas should be practised under the supervision of experts of Yoga.

4. Prāṇāyama (Breath-control)--The fourth limb of Yoga:
ʻतस्मिन् सति श्वासप्रश्वासयोर्गतिविच्छेदः प्राणायामः।ʼ Yogasūtra --II.49
(4. ‘Tasmin sati śvāsa-praśvāsyor gativicchedaḥ prāṇayāmaḥ’)
On the achievement of āsana, comes prāṇāyama, breath control—regulation of incoming and outgoing breaths. śvāsa—Intake of air from outside; praśvāsa—exhalation of air from lungs. Cessation of both śvāsa and praśvās is prāṇayāma.
This prāṇayāma manifests as bāhyavṛtti (external movement), ābhyantaraṛtti (internal movement) and stambhavṛtti (confined or restrained movement of air). This again is regulated by deśa (space), kāla (duration) and saṃkhyā (number) and becomes dīrgha (long) and sūkṣma (subtle). The fourth type of prāṇayāma transcends the sphere of external and internal. It is the total suppression of breath. Then the covering of illumination of knowledge is weakened. And then the mind becomes fit for concentration—‘dhāraṇāsu ca yogyatā manasaḥ’.
In other words bāhyavṛtti, ābhyantaraṛtti and stambhavṛtti may be called as recaka, pūraka and kumbhaka.

In the Haṭhayogapradipīkā recaka is defined as—
‘niṣkrāmya nāsāvivarādaśeṣaṁ prāṇaṁ bahiḥ śūnyamivānilena.
Nirudhya santiṣṭhanti ruddhavāyuḥ sa recako nāma mahānirodhaḥ..’
Restraint of movement of air after complete exhalation of air through nostril is called recaka.
Puraka: The process of filling the lung by inhaling outside air through nostril slowly and stay still is called Puraka.
Kumbhaka: The process of holding the air in the nostrils gradually is called kumbhaka.
The key of prāṇayāma is to control the exhalation and inhalation of air. Later Yogins suggested different kinds of prāṇāyāma. For example—kapālbhāti, anulomaviloma, bhāmri, udgītha etc.
Prāṇāyāma should be practised under the guidance of trained persons. This provides immense peace in mind and comfort in the body. An unexplainable calmness pervades all over the senses. Experts say—by prāṇāyāma high blood pressure, diabetes etc. are cured completely. I am also benefitted by regular practice of prāṇāyāma.
There are different traditions of prāṇāyāma. There are differences of opinion among the gurus regarding the process and timing of prāṇāyāma, but all are beneficial. Any one process may be followed. 

5. Pratyāhāra (abstraction)-- the fifth limb of Yoga:
As said by Pataῆjali—
ʻस्वविषयासम्प्रयोगे चित्तस्य स्वरूपानुकार इवेन्द्रियाणां प्रत्याहारः।ʼ  Yogasūtra II. 54
(svaviśayāsamproyoge cittasya svarūpānukāra ivendriyāṇāṃ prtyāhāra.)
In the absence of their respective objects, the senses do not come into contact of them. It corresponds, as it were, to the nature of mind, is Abstraction. If the prāṇāyāma is practised for a long time, then the capacity of controlling senses become easier. From this the ultimate control over the senses is achieved.

6. Dhāraṇā (Concentration)—the sixth limb of Yoga: Pataῆjali said--
ʻदेशबन्धश्चित्तस्य धारणा।ʼ (deśabandhaścittasya dhāraṇā)— Yogasūtra III.1
Concentration is the confinement of the mind in one place. Such places are as—
Navel sphere (nābhicakra), the lotus of the heart (hṛtpadma), the head, the shining part (mūrdhvajyotiḥ), the forepart of nose (nāsikāgra), forepart of the tongue (jihvāgra) etc, or any external object.

7. Dhyānaṃ (Meditation—one-pointedness of mind)—the seventh limb of Yoga:
Pataῆjali said-- ʻतत्र प्रत्ययैकतानता ध्यालम्।ʼ
(tatra pratyayaikatānatā dhyāna) Yogasūtra —III.2
Meditation is the continuation of the cognition on one image. This is total calmness of mind. In this condition the flow of cognition on one designed object is uninterrupted.

8. Samādhi (Spiritual Absorption)—the eighth limb of Yoga: Pataῆjali said--
ʻतदेवार्थमात्रनिर्भासं स्वरूपशून्यमिव समाधिः।ʼ
(Tadevārthamātranirbhāsa svarūpaśūnyamiva samādhi)— Yogasūtra III.3
The ultimate excellence of meditation is Samādhi or Spiritual Absorption.
This is the stage of self-realisation. In this stage meditated object and the meditator merged into oneness and the meditator feels no difference between him and the designed meditated object.

Conclusion—All the matters that prescribed in the Yoga system are not easy to follow by everybody. The stage of samādhi is very difficult to follow for common man. This lofty path is prescribed for the saints. Common people like us may resort to āsana, prāṇāyāma and meditation to keep the physical and mental health sound. In modern world it is a great challenge to be unperturbed physically and mentally. Asana, prāṇāyāma and meditation may make us capable to face those challenges and finally win over them. So let’s start without delay.
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