Yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. Derived from the Sanskrit word yuj, Yoga means union of the individual consciousness or soul with the Universal Consciousness or Spirit. Yoga is a 5000-year-old Indian body of knowledge. Though many think of yoga only as a physical exercise where people twist, turn, stretch and breathe in the most complex ways, these are actually only the most superficial aspect of this profound science of unfolding the infinite potentials of the human mind and soul. The science of Yoga imbibes the complete essence of the Way of Life.
The origins of yoga have been speculated to date back to Pre-Vedic Indian traditions. It is mentioned in the Rigveda, but most likely developed around the sixth and fifth centuries BCE, in ancient India's ascetic and sramaṇa movements. The chronology of earliest texts describing yoga-practices is unclear, varyingly credited to Hindu Upanishads. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali date from the first half of the 1st millennium CE, but only gained prominence in the West in the 20th century. Hatha yoga texts emerged around the 11th century with origins in tantra.
In Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, the eightfold path is called ashtanga, which literally means "eight limbs" (ashta=eight, anga=limb). These eight steps basically act as guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. They serve as a prescription for moral and ethical conduct and self-discipline; they direct attention toward one's health; and they help us to acknowledge the spiritual aspects of our nature.
1. Yama: Universal morality
The five yamas are:
2. Niyama: Personal observances
The five niyamas are:
Tapas: heat; spiritual austerities
Svadhyaya: study of the sacred scriptures and of one's self
Isvara pranidhana: surrender to God
3. Asana: Body postures
4. Pranayama: Breathing exercises, and control of prana
5. Pratyahara: Control of the senses
6. Dharana: Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
7. Dhyana: Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
8. Samadhi: Union with the Divine
The basis of Yoga are the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. In it, Patanjali recommends a two-step way. The first stage is the development of positive ethic qualities (the ten yoga principles). Without positive qualities in meditation, inner peace will break through the chaos of the outside world again and again. The second stage of the yogic path is to practice meditation. One can say, that Yoga in the essence is based on positive thinking and meditation.
1. Non-Violence (Ahimsa):
No killing other beings. Be meek. Be peaceful.
2. Truthfulness (Satya):
Live in the truth. Basically, be honest with yourself and others. Also no little lies of convenience. A lie is permissible only in well justified situations, for example, if you save with a lie the life of another human being. A Yogi is silent in doubt. Those who consistently lives in the truth radiate truth. Their fellow men trust them.
3. Righteousness (Asteya):
Not stealing, not cheating. A Yogi is in professional life generally honest. He does not seek unwarranted advantage, but he is looking for fair trade.
4. Wisdom (Brahmacharia):
Live in the spiritual focus (in the light/in God = Brahman). Do not serve the money (outer luck) but the inner happiness (God, Brahman, enlightenment). Be centered in your inner happiness and peace.
5. Simplicity (Aparigraha):
Be moderate in external enjoyment and consumption. A spiritual person lives modestly outwardly and inwardly rich. A Yogi uses his energy not in outer actions, but lives so peaceful that it turns inward and cleanse his body from the inside. One day, he lives permanently in the light.
6. Worship of the spiritual goal (Ishvara-Pranidhana) :
Thus we do not lose our spiritual path, it is necessary that we remind ourselves again and again to our spiritual goal. We can worship an image (Goddess, Shiva, Patanjali), we can bow before a statue (Buddha, Jesus, Shiva) or speak a mantra (prayer).
7. Sacrifice the ego (Shaucha):
Purification /Cleaning. The way into the light passes through the crucifixion of the ego. Without a crucifixion there is no enlightenment. True sacrifice is an art. He who sacrifices too much braced themselves internally. Who sacrifices too little, does not solves his tensions.
8. Self-discipline (Tapas):
A clear goal, a clear life plan and a clear way of practicing. Tapas means to lead a disciplined life.
9. Reading (Svadhyaya):
The daily reading (mantra, meditation) keeps us on the spiritual path, cleanses our spirit, connects us with the enlightened masters and makes us to spiritual victors.
10. Contentment (Santosha):
Satisfied with what one has.