Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Yoga - growing 16 limbs of one body

Modern yoga is strongly influenced by the revival of the Yoga Sutras, a 200 BCE-400 CE compilation of aphorisms attributed to Patanjali. The Yoga Sutras provide the rationale and philosophical foundation for an integrated yoga practice based on 16 concepts. These are to be developed in conjunction, grown together, which is why they are also described as limbs of a single body (ānga).

The first ten limbs are traditionally summarised into two groups of five, Yama (यम) and Niyama (नियम), which outline a yogic code of conduct and personal observances, respectively.

1) Ahimsa (अहिंसा), the avoidance of harm and violence. The term is derived from the Sanskrit root hims – to strike; and/or hinsa - injury or harm, with the prefix a indicating practice of the opposite.

2) Satya (सत्य), benevolent truth. Satya is derived from the Sanskrit root sat - truth, correct

3) Asteya (अस्तेय), refraining from acquiring what is not rightfully one's own. The Sanskrit term is derived from root steya – to steal, with the prefix a indicating practice of the opposite.

4) Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य), spiritual advancement by education and training, traditionally combined with adopting a lifestyle of controlling one's sensual and material desires. Brahmacharya is a composite noun derived from the Sanskrit words Brahman - the absolute, and Charya - to follow.

5) Aparigraha (अपरिग्रह), non-appropriation and absence of greed. The term is derived from the Sanskrit root Parigraha – to claim, reach out for, with the prefix a indicating practice of the opposite.

6) Shaucha (शौच), cleanliness of mind and body. In Sanskrit Shaucha translates to purity.

7) Santosha (संतोष), contentment and accomodation in a given situation.The term is derived from the Sanskrit noun Saṃtoṣa - contentment, satisfaction.

8) Tapas (तपस्), discipline and austerity on the path towards one's goals. The literal translation of the Sanskrit term refers to heat.

9) Svādhyāya (स्वाध्याय), practise of introspection and critical self-reflection. Svādhyāya is a compound term from Sanskrit Sva (स्व) - one's own, and Adhyaya (अध्याय) - reading, lesson, lecture.

10) Ishvarapranidhana (ईश्वर प्रणिधान), acting without striving for the fruits of one's actions. Ishvarapranidhana is a compound term from Sanskrit with Ishvara (ईश्वर) translating to life force, supreme, absolute, and Pranidhana (प्रणिधान) meaning to surrender to, letting go.

11) Asana (आसन), body postures that result in a steadfast mind for an extended period of time. The Sanskrit word refers to sitting down and has been specified by Patanjali as a seated position that is firm, but relaxed for meditation. A large number of dynamic asanas have been developed over the centuries, in particular in the more recent decades.

12) Pranayama (प्राणायाम), extension of vital energy through excercises in breath control. Pranayama is a compound term from Sanskrit with Prana (प्राण) from the root prā - to fill, referring to vital energy, breath of life, and Ayama (ायाम) - expansion, extension.

13) Pratyahara (प्रत्याहार), withdrawal of senses from external phenomena in order to internalise one's consciousness. Pratyahara is a compound term of three Sanskrit words with Prati - in response to, opposed to; A - towards, near; and Hr - to bring back.

The last three limbs are grouped together in Samyama (संयम), from the Sanskrit word saṃ-yama—holding together, tying up, integrating. Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi describe the various states of absorption in an object of meditation.

14) Dharana (धारणा), single-pointed concentration and focus of the mind, actively avoiding other thoughts. The meditator is aware of her- or himself, the act of concentrating, as well as the object of concentration.  The term Dharana is based on the Sanskrit verbal root dhri - to hold, maintain, resolve.

15) Dhyana (ध्यान), uninterrupted contemplation on the object of meditation, where only a general consciousness of being and the object of concentration coexist. Dhyana is based on the Sanskrit root dhyai - to contemplate, meditate, think.

16) Samadhi (समाधि), blissful non-dualistic state of consciousness between subject and object of meditation. Samadhi is a compound term of the Sanskrit words Samā - even, equilibrium; and Dhi - intellect.

In order to grow wings in yoga all 16 limbs need to be grown together