The practice of Yoga does not only focus on physical postures to improve the body, but deals with all aspects of human existence. Patanjali (500 B.C.), who is considered the father of Modern Yoga, compiled 196 aphorisms called the Yoga Sutra. In the Yoga Sutra, he described the eight aspects of a Yogic Lifestyle and called it the Eight Limbs of Yoga. These limbs, or stages, constitute a practical guide to personal development that helps the individual achieve harmony of the mind, body and Spirit, and finally leads to enlightenment (Samadhi).
1) The Contemplations
1.1 Now, instruction in Yoga begins.
1.2. Yoga is restraining the thought-streams natural to the mind.
1.3. Then the seer dwells in his own nature.
1.4. Otherwise, he is of the same form as the thought-streams.
1.5. The thought-streams are five-fold, painful and not painful.
1.6. Right knowledge, wrong knowledge, fancy, sleep and memory.
1.7. Right knowledge is inference, tradition and genuine cognition.
1.8. Wrong knowledge is false, illusory, erroneous beliefs or notions.
1.9. Fancy is following after word-knowledge empty of substance.
1.10. Deep sleep is the modification of the mind which has for its substratum nothingness.
1.11. Memory is not allowing mental impressions to escape.
1.12. These thought-streams are controlled by practice and non-attachment.
1.13. Practice is the effort to secure steadiness.
1.14. This practice becomes well-grounded when continued with reverent devotion and without interruption over a long period of time.
1.15. Desirelessness towards the seen and the unseen gives the consciousness of mastery.
1.16. This is signified by an indifference to the three attributes, due to knowledge of the Indweller.
1.17. Cognitive meditation is accompanied by reasoning, discrimination, bliss and the sense of 'I am.'
1.18. There is another meditation, which is attained by the practice of alert mental suspension until only subtle impressions remain.
1.19. For those beings who are formless and for those beings who are merged in unitive consciousness, the world is the cause.
1.20. For others, clarity is preceded by faith, energy, memory and equal-minded contemplation.
1.21. Equal-minded contemplation is nearest to those whose desire is most ardent.
1.22. There is further distinction on account of the mild, moderate or intense means employed.
1.23. Or by surrender to God.
1.24. God is a particular yet universal in-dweller, untouched by afflictions, actions, impressions and their results.
1.25. In God, the seed of omniscience is unsurpassed.
1.26. Not being conditioned by time, God is the teacher of even the ancients.
1.27. God's voice is Om.
1.28. The repetition of Om should be made with an understanding of its meaning.
1.29. From that is gained introspection and also the disappearance of obstacles.
1.30. Disease, inertia, doubt, lack of enthusiasm, laziness, sensuality, mind-wandering, missing the point, instability- these distractions of the mind are the obstacles.
1.31. Pain, despair, nervousness, and disordered inspiration and expiration are co-existent with these obstacles.
1.32. For the prevention of the obstacles, one truth should be practiced constantly.
1.33. By cultivating friendliness towards happiness and compassion towards misery, gladness towards virtue and indifference towards vice, the mind becomes pure.
1.34. Optionally, mental equanimity may be gained by the even expulsion and retention of energy.
1.35. Or activity of the higher senses causes mental steadiness.
1.36. Or the state of sorrowless Light.
1.37. Or the mind taking as an object of concentration those who are freed of compulsion.
1.38. Or depending on the knowledge of dreams and sleep.
1.39. Or by meditation as desired.
1.40. The mastery of one in Union extends from the finest atomic particle to the greatest infinity.
1.41. When the agitations of the mind are under control, the mind becomes like a transparent crystal and has the power of becoming whatever form is presented. knower, act of knowing, or what is known.
1.42. The argumentative condition is the confused mixing of the word, its right meaning, and knowledge.
1.43. When the memory is purified and the mind shines forth as the object alone, it is called non-argumentative.
1.44. In this way the meditative and the ultra-meditative having the subtle for their objects are also described.
1.45. The province of the subtle terminates with pure matter that has no pattern or distinguishing mark.
1.46. These constitute seeded contemplations.
1.47. On attaining the purity of the ultra-meditative state there is the pure flow of spiritual consciousness.
1.48. Therein is the faculty of supreme wisdom.
1.49. The wisdom obtained in the higher states of consciousness is different from that obtained by inference and testimony as it refers to particulars.
1.50. The habitual pattern of thought stands in the way of other impressions.
1.51. With the suppression of even that through the suspension of all modifications of the mind, contemplation without seed is attained.
(Pundit Radheshyam Mishra is Founder-Director of "Ujjain Yoga Life Society International".
These Yoga Sutras taken from www.yogalifeusa.org.)
These Yoga Sutras taken from www.yogalifeusa.org.)