What is Ashtanga Yoga Of Patanjali Raja Yoga Steps to Super Consciousness Eight Limbs of Yoga for Spiritual Unfoldment By Rohit Anand New Delhi India

Ashtanga Yoga,  Raja Yoga Or Kriya Yoga Of Maharishi Patanjali for Achieving The state of Super Consciousness.  Patanjali begins his explanation of the eight limbs of Raja Yoga. There are seven limbs before the aspirant reaches 'samadhi'(Super Consciousness)."Yama", "niyama", "asana", "pranayama", "pratyahara", "dharana", "dhyana", and "samadhi" are the eight limbs.

Raja Yoga, the royal path of mind control, is the most comprehensive and scientific approach to God-Realization.  The precepts and doctrines of this ancient science were first compiled and explained by Patanjali Maharishi, the greatest psychologist of all time.  Never has man's mind been so completely analyzed.  Never has a process for eliminating human woes and frailties been so succinctly presented.  The methods of Raja Yoga are profoundly timeless.  Though of ancient origin, they are still the most useful technique available to modern man beset by the tremendous stresses and strains of competitive society.

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The eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga can be translated as:

A) Yama: Abstentions or restraints :The Yamas consists of non-injury, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence, and non-acquisitiveness.When non-violence is firmly established, hostility vanishes in the yogi's presence".One who is firmly rooted in nonviolence radiates this conviction to others. He is powerful that not even violent thoughts can exist in his presence.When truth is fully established, the yogi attains the result of action without acting'. The words of a person who has practiced truth to the highest degree will manifest, for the words of such a person reflect the Truth of Atman.'When non-stealing becomes firmly established, all wealth comes to the yogi'. The more a yogi flees from material objects, the more they seem to come to him. The purpose of this natural law is two-fold.  The first is so that he may be tested and confirmed in his renunciation.  The second is so that he, as a wise person, may appropriately dispense the wealth to benefit mankind. 'When brahmcharya, or sexual continence, is firmly established, vibrant vitality is gained.'When sexual energy is sublimated and preserved it is converted into ojas, or spiritual energy.  This ojas is such a radiant force that it  uplifts all who come into contact with the 'brahmachari'. 'When non-acquisitiveness is established, an understanding of the purpose of birth is gained.'When the yogi no longer desires to have possessions he frees himself from the material world.  This gives him a perspective of the purpose of his birth, both in this lift and in past ones.  He gains comprehension of the law of Karma and understands what lessons remain to be learned before attaining Realization. 'Negative thoughts and emotions, such as violence, whether committed, abetted, or caused through greed, anger or delusion, and whether present in mind, medium or great intensity, result in endless pain and ignorance. Thus there is the necessity for pondering over the opposites'.All thoughts, emotions and actions that are in opposition to the basic tenets of 'yamas' and 'niyamas' bring about the Karma of further pain and ignorance. This is true whether the action is actually carried, remains in thought form, or is incited in others. Whatever the causes, whatever the degree of involvement, Karma is still incurred. This why it is necessary to substitute positive and sublime thoughts the moments negative ones are caught arising in the mind.

B) Niyama:Observances which cultivate positive qualities. 'The niyamas consists of cleanliness, contentment, austerity, self study, and self surrender'.The 'niyamas' are observances which cultivate positive qualities. They involve purification, stilling the mind, self-discipline, inquiry into the nature of the Self, and surrendering the personal will, or ego, to the Supreme will. Aside from cleanliness, one should cultivate indifference toward the body. Cleanliness means internal as well as external purification. A proper diet based on vegetarianism and natural foods, specialized yogic  cleansing techniques, and the Yoga exercises keep the body internally pure and free from obstructions. Cleanliness also extends to the mind. Only when it is it is purified of all dross can it be a pure mirror for the reflection of the Self.

'These (abstentions) are not limited by social structure, location, time or circumstances, and they constitute the great (universal) vow'. Laughter comes from stimulation, but a smile comes from inner  peacefulness. Satisfied with itself, the mind needs nothing else for its contentment, which grows in proportion to awareness of the inner Self. The mind should be effected by external objects. They may be possessed, but with detachment. Do not let them possess the mind. Austerity means curtailing the insatiable demands of the senses. Drink water instead of coffee, practice silence instead of talking,  control greed by eating bland food, and counteract sleep by getting up early. When the mind learns that its demands for pleasure will not be met through the senses, it stops its useless wandering and turns inward. Control of the senses clears the way for such powers as telepathy and clairvoyance. Study of spiritual works and the scriptures helps to keep a person on the right path. Books alone, however, can only take one so far, can lead to intellectual pride. Surrender to the will of God is necessary, for ultimately everything depends upon His grace.

C) Asana or  Yoga postures : 'From that (mastery of "asana"[postion]), no assaults come from the pairs of opposites'.When 'asanas' are mastered, the yogi is not touched by the play of duality. His will and concentration are developed to such an extent that heat and cold, pleasure and pain, good and bad, and all other worldly influences do not touch him.

D) Pranayama:   Yogic breathing
E) Pratyahara:  Withdrawal of senses
E) Dharana:     Concentration
F) Dhyana:      Meditation
G) Samadhi:     Superconsciousness

Raja Yoga is sometimes called 'Ashtanga Yoga', or  Yoga of eight limbs. They translate, in the order given above, as self restraints, observances, postures, regulation of breath, withdrawal of the mind from sense objects, concentration, meditation and the superconscious state.

Patanjali's second chapter sets forth the practice of Yoga, or 'sadhana'. It discusses Kriya Yoga, Which is purification through discipline, study, and self-surrender. It enumerates the five main afflictions, or causes for human suffering, and the methods for eliminating them. Finally, it discusses the first five limbs of Raja Yoga-'yama', 'niyama', 'asana', 'pranayama', and 'pratyahara'-the foundations for the meditation.

'Austerity, self-study, and surrender to God constitute Kriya Yoga'. Austerity does not mean physical abuse or serve rigors. It refers to strict control of the senses in order to conserve energy for higher pursuits. Austerity in this means fasting occasionally, rising early to meditate instead of sleeping late, and reducing certain physical  comforts for the sake of greater control of mind. Study of scriptures  and other spirituals works keeps the mind flowing in the desired direction. In surrendering to God's will one also surrenders the fruit  of work performed. This leads to Karma Yoga, the path of selfless  service, in which one regards oneself as the instrument of God, and  serves humanity with no thought of either credit or blame.When negative or harmful thoughts disturbs the mind, they can be overcome by constant pondering over their opposites'. The yogi is ever alert, watching his mind. When he sees useless  thought waves arising, he immediately replaces them with positive thoughts, thus creating new mental habits that are conducive to spiritual growth.

'From that (mastery of "asana"[postion]), no assaults come from the pairs of opposites'.

When 'asanas' are mastered, the yogi is not touched by the play of duality. His will and concentration are developed to such an extent that heat and cold, pleasure and pain, good and bad, and all other worldly influences do not touch him.

'The next step is pranayama, which is the control of the inhalation and exhalation of breath'.

The forth limb of Raja Yoga is 'pranayama'. which includes breathing exercises for heating and cooling the body, raising its energy levels or relaxation. 'Prana', the vital energy, may be obtained from food and water, but the primary source is the air that is breathed. Control of it is directly linked with control of mind. Because of its power, the techniques should be practiced under the guidance of a teacher. The awakening of the 'kundalini' as a mean of Self-Realization depends on control over the
breath and therefore the 'prana'.

"If the mind is controlled, it is then capable of great service.  If it is not subdued, it creates endless pain and suffering. " Yoga Classes And Yoga Expert In New Delhi India

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