Patanjali Yoga

The Yogi is superior to the performers of penance. He is also deemed superior to those who have attained true knowledge. He is considered greater than the performers of actions as per the scriptures. Therefore, Arjuna follow the path of a Yogi.

                                                 - (Bhagwat Gita VI. 46)

Why in News?

On 21st June 2021, celebrated International Yoga Day (IYD) in the world. The President of the United Nations General Assembly and the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, which will be followed by demonstrations of Yoga exercises (asanas) to improve physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and an Interactive panel discussion on “Yoga for well-being.” 



Literally, Yoga means union. Generally, the word is used for the union of the individual self with the Supreme Self, that is the realization of God. It is to be understood as the integration of Karma Yoga, Gnyana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Raja Yoga. Thus, in a wide sense, Yoga signifies spiritual discipline.

The Aphorisms of Patanjali are the highest authority on Raja Yoga. The system of Patanjali is based on the system of Sankhya. The importance of Yoga Sutra is such that even Sage Vyasa thought it necessary to write a commentary on it. It stands between the total devotion of Vedanta and atheistically inclined Sankhya. Systems like Nyaya and Vaisheshika have mentioned Yoga Sadhana.

In 'Yoga Vashishta', Sage Vashishta explains and elaborates Yoga to Sri Rama. Sankhya Yoga has also been mentioned in the Upanishads and Vedas. Sankhya Yoga forms an important part of the Bhagwad Gita. There are numerous scholarly works already in existence on these subjects.


Definition of  Yoga: 

This word has many meanings. But what concerns us, is the meaning 'TO JOIN'- to join the body to the mind and together join to the Self (soul). What also concerns us is Yoga as a system of Philosophy. Sage Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras defines Yoga as "Chitta Vritti Nirodha" - That which restrains the thought process and makes the mind serene. The fluctuations in the consciousness are restrained. Simplified, it means penetrating to inner levels, from gross to subtle. It signifies the complete course of action upto its ending in spiritual absorption.

Also Read: Yoga is Art of Living


How to achieve this?

According to Sage Patanjali, this is to be achieved by practice of eight fold path known as Ashtanga Yoga. They are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyan and Samadhi.


The eight limbs of Yoga by Patanjali:


Ethical Disciplines - They are five

Ahimsa: Nonviolence in thought, word and deed.

 Satya : Truthfulness in thought, word and deed.

 Asteya : Non - stealing. Not even the desire to possess what someone has. 

Brahmacharya : Continence - behaviour in thought, word and deed which leads to Brahman.

 Aparigriha : Not to hoard, non - receiving.



Observances. They are five

Saucha: Purification. Internal and External.

Santosha : Contentment. 

Tapas: Fervour, burning desire, inner zeal.

 Swadhyaya : Study of sciences of the Self.

Ishwara Pranidhan : Surrender to God. 

Thus, Yama and Niyama form the foundation of Yoga practice. They are to be followed at every moment of one's life. The advantages of following these are very well enumerated in Yoga Sutras. Even for those who claim not to follow a spiritual path, these ethical observances along with Yoga, build the person's character and free his mind of doubts by helping him to discriminate between right and wrong. They keep him mentally and physically healthy and along with single pointed attention (Ekagrata) they take him towards success in any endeavour.


Asana : Postures:

An Asana is meant to bring consciousness to particular regions of the body so that the cells of those regions get activised to become more sensitive and thus play a role in harmonising the whole human system. It involves toning and tuning our body to help the mind play the eternal symphony. The human system being very complex, needs many different postures to achieve this goal. The sensitivity which we have on the tip of our index finger is the type of sensitivity, a Yogi has throughout his body. But we have to start initially at a gross level.


It means regulation of breath or bio energy. Prana means energy in different forms or life force. Yama means to extend and regulate, to be able to control. Man lives as long as breath is there. Therefore, it is the Prana which controls breath and life. In Pranayama, one extends, prolongs or pauses in inhalation, exhalation and retention. When the breath is stilled, mind and consciousness (chitta) are also stilled. Mind and Prana are closely related.

Hence, by controlling the Prana the mind gets controlled indirectly. Even in the Bhagwad Gita it is conceded that though it is very difficult to control the mind, it can be controlled through practice and dispassion.


It means restraining or withdrawal of senses. There is no interest left in external objects, resulting in total withdrawing towards the Self. This comes only through integration of other stages of Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama when well practiced. With this, the bahiranga sadhana (external quest) ends, according to Patanjali.



It is the state of total concentration where all the energies are channelised to a single point. Future, past and present become one. Dharana, Dhyan and Samadhi are known as Antaranga Sadhana (Internal Quest).



In Dhyan, the dharana stage is prolonged or continued. Its reflection thus becomes meditation. It is in this state that one achieves a pure conscious state, paving the way for culmination into Samadhi - Superconscious state.

Also Read: Importance of Yoga

 Source: Yojana



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