Yoga Sutra, the Darshana of Patanjali
Change is constant.
Constant continuous change, reflect upon and within us impacting our awareness in various magnitudes. Every input to the mind is a cause which has an effect in terms of fluctuation in awareness.
This fluctuation of awareness in our mind body complex is Chitta Vritti.
The Patanjali's yogasutra defined yoga as योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः। (Tr. Yoga is the stoppage of the fluctuations of mind).
The magnitude of mental fluctuation leads to one being in different mental states during the course of the day. These mental states are defined as
Kshipta – scattered / deeply disturbed
Mudha – dull / confused/ lethargic
Vikshipta – Partially/ intermittently focused
Ekagra – One-pointed focus
Nirodha – Absorbed
Yoga is the technique to arrest the awareness and gradually bring it from the stages of kshipta, mudha and vikshipta towards Ekagra leading to Nirodha. i.e from being scattered and disturbed to becoming concentrated.
Patanjali unfolded the Raja Yoga with the famous 'Ashtanga' or eight limbed system of Yoga to achieve Concentration. Focusing on the mind and its fluctuations and mastering it is the aim of Yoga. The Yogasutras of Patanjali (100 BCE–500 CE ) comprise of 195 Sutras or aphorisms which are precise, somewhat cryptic in form and slightly difficult to understand. Sage Vyasa gave his Sanskrit commentaries on them to facilitate better understanding in his Vyasa Bhashya.
The eight limbs of this yoga are –
Yama - Ethical values like Sathya or truth, Ahimsa or non violence, Aparigraha or non possessiveness, Asteya or non covetousness and Brahmacharya or celibacy.
Niyama - To practice Saucha or cleanliness, Tapas or austerities, Santosha or contentment, Svadhyaya or to study the scriptures and Ishvara Pranidhana or to surrender to God.
Asana - Practice of the various postures which helps to strengthen and steady the body in order to prepared for long duration of meditative practices.
Pranayama - Breath work to control the Prana – the life force; as there is a connection between the breath, mind and emotions.
Pratyahara - Withdrawing the sense organs from the external world of objects thus helping to direct attention internally.
Dharana - Concentration and one pointed attention.
Dhyana - deep and undisturbed meditation.
Samadhi - Merging consciousness or the state of ecstasy wherein one realises the oneness of all beings.