Yoga is an integral part of Indian history. Its origin can be traced back to Indus Valley Civilization. The meaning of yoga is the culmination of your inner soul with the highest power i.e. the God. Yoga is not just about postures and exercises; it is also about strengthening the mind. The 8 elements of Yoga help to unite our soul with the supreme souls, thus, achieving the real goal of life. The elements are –
The elements are
The first element contains 5 basic virtues every man should possess. Yama deals with the cleansing of the soul. It teaches that we should not corrupt our souls by indulging in wrongful activities.
- Ahimsa (Non-violence) – It means to shun all the acts of violence which cause harm to others. Violence includes not only the physical harm but also mental harm. It teaches us to resist any feelings of jealousy, anger or hate for any other being.
- Satya or truthfulness- We must not lie. Hiding the truth from someone is considered lying too. In that way we deny his right to know the actual thing.
- Asteya or non-stealing – Steya means stealing. Stealing is a crime both legally and morally. To steal the possessions or thoughts of someone and use it for our own benefit is morally wrong and one should abstain from it.
- Aparigraha- There is enough in the world for your need, but never enough for your greed. Aparigraha is much needed in today`s world where people are busy hoarding wealth. Aparigraha teaches us to live with minimum things which are enough to sustain a life.
It contains 8 essential teachings. These teachings are basically for the self-maintenance.
- Saucha (Purity) – Saucha means cleaning of one’s body. True cleanliness is achieved when the outer body is free of dirt and pollutants, inner organs are functioning well. Various asanas can be performed to keep the organs healthy.
- Santosh (Contentment) – It means to be satisfied with what we have. More the expectations more are the frustration. Be happy with your life and you will leave no chance of being disappointed.
- Tapas- Bring discipline into your life. Focus all the energy in achieving your life goals.
- Svadhyaya- It means self-study. Take some time out to introspect. Ponder over who you really are? What is your aim? How can you give back to the society? Discover yourself and the true meaning of your life.
- Isvarapranidhana- God is omnipresent. His importance can never be ignored. Some part of your day must be devoted fully to contemplation of God.
Asanas are the set of physical postures to improve your strength and balance. These asanas are beneficial for your inner organs. They help to regulate blood and oxygen flow. They bring flexibility and agility by stretching of muscles. Asanas help to maintain the posture. There are no age restrictions and even old people can perform asanas. Halasana, tadasana, chakrasana are some of the asanas.
Pranayama consists of three simple exercises- Puraka (inhale), Kumbhaka (Retain) and Rechaka (Exhale). Pranayama involves controlled breathing. It is also practiced with some asanas. It is considered beneficial for lungs and helps in boosting the count of RBC`s.
It is mastering the control over your senses. You learn to unheard the useless voice like creaking of fan, dripping of tap; you learn to become unresponsive to the tap on your shoulder, an ant bite or any other touch. It can be achieved through meditation. At first you will be distracted but slowly you will learn to gain control of all your senses.
It is the second stage of meditation. Dharana means to focus all your energy at one point. It means to not let your mind wander, to discard all your random thoughts. It helps in steadying the mind, to realize which thoughts are worth keeping and which are not. Time passes by and you are lost in your own thoughts; completely detached from the outer world.
Dharana sets the stage for dhyana. When all the useless, random thoughts have been done away with, only then can you concentrate. It is the stability and complete calmness of mind. If your thoughts are scattered how can you do a work with perfection? Dhyana needs complete attention of your mind. No diversions, no distractions.
Samadhi is the ultimate union of your soul with the God. It is the stage where you lose yourself to God. The concepts of “I”, “Me” and “mine” hold no significance to you. It is the true attainment of God.
Yoga brings peace and balance to the life of the practitioner. It brings you closer to God. It heightens your senses and makes you work efficiently. It enlightens you with the mysteries of life. How can you get rid of the mindless clutter in your brain? How to find calm moments in the busy hectic life? These 8 elements of yoga if mastered well can lead you to a life you wished for.