Ashtang Yoga A Way Of Life
Yoga has become very popular among the masses, in the recent past. It is commonly understood to be a scientific system which imparts a healthy and peaceful life, to every dedicated seeker. It also helps in the prevention of many diseases and reversal of few diseases. Grammatically word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj i.e. reunion/ to join/ to unite. Purpose of yoga is self realisation. The entire Yogic-Process has been aptly described by the eminent ancient Indian sage, Patanjali. Compilation of his work dates approximately 5000 years back and is popularly known as Patanjali Yoga Sutra. This compilation is divided into four parts and second part of this compilation is known as “Saadhan Paad”, which describes Ashtaang Yoga.
In Yoga Philosophy, Ashtaang Yoga is an eight step process, for the physical, mental, social and spiritual development and evolution of mankind, irrespective of caste, creed, race, nationality and religion of the seeker. It benefits every practitioner immensely. Eight steps of this path are as follows: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahaar, Dhaarna, Dhyana, Samadhi.
All these eight steps have a specific role in developing self-discipline and control over body, mind and intellect. These eight steps also help in developing hidden powers of mind, which is central to the control of all life processes. It helps in meditation, which is a key to self-realisation. A mind in meditation is most powerful tool for taking the human existence to an enlightened state (Samadhi). Self realisation is experienced in a state of “Super-consciousness” or “Samadhi” and is fundamental to enable any human being to appreciate oneness of this universe. Self-realisation helps a Yogi to identify himself with all the living and non-living world around and therefore helps in developing a true sense of love and care for all, irrespective of their worldly differences, of all kinds. It is on this account that Self-realisation is most coveted goal of the journey of human life and Ashtaang Yoga is an effective tool to accomplish this goal.
Depending on the type of human personality, four types of Yoga has been described: Gyaan Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Hatha Yoga. These Yoga types have been described on account of the dominance of one of the following personality types Intellectual, Emotional, Active and Indolent.
Therefore any individual can follow one of these four paths, which matches with one’s own personality. However, eight steps of Ashtaang Yoga, remain common to all approaches. As knowledge of alphabets and grammer is basic to learn and use a language similarly knowledge and practice of these eight steps is basic to pursue the path of yoga, which leads to self-purification and self-realisation. Therefore every Yoga seeker should put sincere efforts in understanding this systematic and scientific approach of Yoga, which is a divine gift to mankind, from our ancestors.
By Dr Deepak Shukla