Introduction to Yoga and Yoga Sutra

The Indian philosophy is also known as ‘Darshana’s’. Unlike western philosophy which mainly depends on intellect and logic, darshana’s are the wisdom of sages who have seen or understood the reality beyond the visible world. This knowledge was attained through deep meditation in a pure mind. The darshans are classified into two types

  1. Naastika ((as those who do not accept the existence of supreem being)
  2. Aasthika (as those who accept the existence of supreem being)

Those who accept the authority of the Vedas are called Aasthika and those who do not accept the authority of the Vedas are Naasthika. Yoga Darshana belongs to the aasthika Darshana. Yoga Darshana is one of the ancient darshana which is very practical. Today yoga has much attention from people all over the world and June 21st is celebrated as international yoga day. Practicing the first two aspects of yoga i.e. Yama and niyama can improve personal life as well as social life. The asanas are very helpful to keep one healthy.

What is yoga?

Patanjali Yoga

The term yoga can be used with many connotations and is derived from ‘Yujir yoge'(joining) and yuja ‘samadhau’(samadhi or highest point of concentration). We can see the usage of both meanings are used to explain yoga.

Yoga can be defined as when one is able to withdraw five senses from its objectives of the external world and direct it toward the mind and when the mind becomes still is known as ‘Parama gati’ or the highest point. Being able to hold the sensory organs in stable condition is known as Yoga.

According to hindu tradition, all knowledge has originated from God Brahma, so the yoga shastra’s also come from Lord Brahma. Maharishi Patanjali is considered the first person who compiled the science of yoga in the form of sutra and the compiled work is known as Patanjali’s yoga sutras.

Patanjali’s yoga sutras contain 195 shlokas and this has been divided into 4 pada’s or sections. they are

  • Samadhi Pada
  • Sahana Pada
  • Vibhooti Pada
  • Kaivalya Pada

It is very difficult to understand any sutras without its commentary. For yoga sutras, there is only one available commentary known as Vyasa bhashya. Though it is concise it is useful to understand the yoga sutras. There are many commentaries written on visa bhashya.

Patanjali’s yoga darshana gives more importance to sadhana (performance). This is also known as Astanga Yoga because of its eight steps. The main intention of yoga is to attain a clearer mind.

Yogah città frutti nirodhah ||

Yoga is simply defined as the control of the changes in the mind. When one attains this will be able to stay in true nature.

What is Chitta?

Through which the person is able to attain the knowledge is known as Chitta. It’s also called manas, antakarana, buddy,, etc…

What is Vrutti?

When a stone is thrown to water it produces the waves in the similar manner when jnanendriyas or sensory organs or through thinking the waves that arise in the mind are known as vrutti. Though the chittavruttis are innumerable they can be brought under the five classifications mentioned below

Types of vrutti :

  • Pramana
  • Viparyaya
  • Vikalpa
  • Nidra
  • Smruti

Obstacles faced while practicing Yoga 

In Patanjali’s yoga,, the obstacles faced by a yogi during his practice are called yogantaraya or yoga vighna’s. They are nine in number viz

  1. Vyadhi (diseases)
  2. Styaana (laziness of the mind)
  3. Samsahaya (doubtfulness)
  4. Pramada (mistakes while practicing)
  5. Alasya (laziness)
  6. Avirati (desires)
  7. Bhranti darshana (illusions)
  8. Alabdabhomikatwa (not attaining the benefits of yoga)
  9. Anavastitatwa (unable to retain the benefits attained during practice)

Yoga sutras has explained many ways to overcome obstacles and stabilize the mind to attain concentration to reach samadhi. In this practice and quietism are predominant. how a river is blocked by constructing a dam and then channelizing water to desired places like producing electricity, agriculture,, etc…The uncontrolled activities of the mind are stopped by quietism and turned towards knowing the supreme reality.

Astanga’s of yoga:


The aim of yoga is to attain the highest knowledge. To attain these yoga sutras have explained 8 branches or steps to reach the goal. These are known as Astanga’s of Yoga. Viz:

  1. Yama (moral discipline)
  2. Niyama (observances)
  3. Asana (physical postures)
  4. Pranayama (breathing techniques)
  5. Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
  6. Dhahrana (concentration)
  7. Dhyana (meditation)
  8. Samadhi (blissful state)

In the first five are known as external aspects and the rest of the three are considered the internal aspect of yoga.

Yama and niyama are again classified into five branches. These give moral dimension to a practitioner. Yama teaches the values to be followed by a person in society. Niyama guides the personal values to be followed.

The five aspects of yama are

  1. Ahimsa (non-harming or non-violence in thought, word and deed)
  2. Satya (truthfulness)
  3. Asteya (non-stealing)
  4. Brahmacharya (learning about the supreem or brahma)
  5. Aparigraha (non-greed)

The five aspects of Niyama are

  1. Shoucha  (cleanliness)
  2. santhosha (contentment)
  3. Tapas (burning enthusiasm)
  4. Swadhyaya (study of self and texts)
  5. Ishwar pranidhana (surrender to a supreem being)

The stable and comfortable posture to sit to practice dhyana is called Asana

through breath controlling the life force within is called pranayama

when we divert indriyas internally they look like getting dissolved in mind without any expression is known as pratyahara.

Dhahran, Dhyana, and samadhi are the three stages of one process. so all these three are combinedly are called samyama.

Holding the mind in particular places like nabhi chakra, anna chakra,, etc…. is known as Dharana

When the mind is continuously concentrated on the directed subject then it becomes dhyana

In the final stage which is in samadhi stage, one attains the realization of the subject on which he meditated. In this stage of realization, the practitioner forgets himself temporarily and remains in the state of realization.

In Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadi the subject should be one. Once a person masters this he can attain the samyama of concentrating on anything.

yoga asana

Yoga siddhis:

Patanjali Maharshi has explained a few sides of supernatural powers in yoga sutras. This may have been added to induce interest in practicing yoga.

Ayurveda and Yoga

Though both ayurveda and yoga aims to keep a person healthy, yoga focuses on spiritual growth, understanding self and knowing the supreem bramhan.

Ayurveda focuses on how to be healthy and when health gets disturbed ayurveda treatments help to bring back health naturally.

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