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 Yoga
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Yoga
Many People understand Yoga to be just physical postures. However, Asanas ( Physical postures ) are just one important step of the ladder of yoga with the help of which one can realize soul & God.

1st Step : Yamas ( Restraints )
To begin on this path, one must practice the following restraints : a) Non-Violence b) Truthfulness c) Non-Stealing d) Celibacy e) Non-Covetousness

2nd Step : NIYAMAS (OBSERVACES)
The second step is to set ones daily routine to observe the following : a) Purity b) Contentment c) Austerity d) Self Study e) Meditation of God

3rd Step : ASANAS ( Physical Postures )
Yamas and Niyamas are related to every field of life, but Asanas are related directly to the succeeding steps. Without attaining steadiness in Asanas, one cannot acquire success in Yoga or Samadhi ( Super consciousness state) . About 300 postures with their benefits are described in the book, “First step to Higher Yoga” with 400 pictures.

4th Step : Pranayama ( Control of Vital airs )
Seventy types of Pranayama with their benefits have been described in book, “ First step to Higher Yoga “ Pranayama removes the veil of darkness that obscures light and enables the mind to enter the state of concentration. The practice of Pranayamas also helps in attaining mastery over the senses.

5th Step : Pratyahara ( Withdrawal of the senses )
This step relates to the control of senses of the body. By attaining perfection in Pratyahara, one acquires perfect mastery over all objects of enjoyment, whether they be worldly or spiritual and whether they are enjoyed by gross or subtle sense. Consequently, the aspirant becomes qualified for Samadhi (State of super consciousness). Then the mind does not run after subtle and gross objects nor does it allow the sense to acquire sense objects and thereby is acquired “ Chttavrittinirodha” , cessation of all the modifications of the mind which leads to the knowledge of self. This destroys transmigration, the cycle of birth and death. Then the yogi automatically becomes qualified for the knowledge of Brahma and attains Nirvana ( Liberation)

6th Step : DHARANA ( Concentration )
Dharana is fixing the mind at any special point or object. It may be understood that by simply concentrating on the external form of the chosen object there is no true realization or intuitional vision because the Vrittis ( mental activities ) are not quietened. However, the mind becomes still by ignoring all other objects.

Dharana can be External or Internal. External Dharana is of five kinds, one for each element.

(a) Parthiva Dharana or Concentration on Earth Element.
To fix the mind on a flower, picture of a saint, a black dot, the statue of a diety or on the symbol ( A-U-M) is known as concentration on Earth Element.

(b) Jaliya Dharana or Concentration on Water Element.
To gaze at the bank of a river or lake, on a waveless water while sitting by the shore of an ocean is known as concentration on water element.

(c) Agneya Dharana or Concentration on Fire Elements.
To fix the gaze on the flame of a candle, bulb of soft light or fire in the altar etc., is known as concentration of Fire Element.

(d) Vayaviya Dharana or Concentration on Air Elements
Steadying the mind by constant touch of air by contact with any object, by the feel of heat or cold or going in and coming out of breath is known as concentration of Air Element.

(e) Shabdika Dharana or Concentration of Sound Element.
To fix the mind on loud or semi-verbal Japa ( repetition of sacred syllables ) , on the murmuring of the river Ganga or the humming of the Bhramari Pranayama ( the sound heard from it ) , or any other regular sounds heard from inside on closed ears ( called Anahada Nada) is known as concentration on Sound Element.

Internal Dharana develops from the intense practice of External Dharana when the external support of concentration can be dispensed with in favour of concentration at the point where the unmanifest becomes manifest.

By constant practice, concentration becomes very powerful which is necessary for the entry into meditation.

7th Step : Dhyana ( Meditation )
By intensifying Dharana, a state automatically arises in which a Sudhaka ( Student ) is not aware of time, space and causation beyond the object of meditation. In other words, the mind that is fixed on the object of meditation should not falter ever for a moment and should continue its identification with the object in one continuous stream. This continuity of flow is Dhyana or Meditation, isolated from time, space and causation. The consummation of this flow is Samadhi or super-consciousness.

8th Step : Samadhi ( Super Consciousness )
When meditation shines with the object alone as if unaware of itself, this is known as Samadhi. In this state, the meditator acquire inner knowledge or the meaning of the object and does not experience anything else. Beyond this stage, by developing the different grades of Samadhi, one goes on to acquire knowledge of gross and subtle objects and ultimately attains the discriminative knowledge of Purasha and Prakriti ( The Supreme Spirit and matter ). For the Kosha (Mind Sheath), the different grades of Samadhi are the only means.