What kind of posture hinders enlightenment

Ashtanga yoga. The path to enlightenment according to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali


1 Ashtanga Yoga The way to enlightenment according to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali This caricature-distorted appearance of the human being illustrates the mutual proportionality in which fields of perception of the human body are anatomically created in the brain large lips and fingers e.g. indicate high sensitivity of these body parts. If we want to embark on the path of yoga and thus to the calm of the mind, we should not begin with a self-deception and clearly visualize our instinctual control as illustrated here. If you want to suppress this page in yourself, you will not be able to achieve any real success and can save yourself this study. So the Yamas and Niyamas are essential for successful yoga practice.

2 Table of contents 1. Yama social rules 1. Ahimsa: non-violence Kaya: no physical violence Vacha: no violent speech or language Manas: no violent thinking 2. Satya: truth of speech, (truthfulness) 3. Asteya: non-stealing, (sincerity ) 4. Brahmacharya: moderation in all things, (abstinence) 5. Aparigraha: not receiving, (lack of possessions) 2. Niyama Personal rules 1. Saucha: purity Bahya: external cleanliness in clothing and body care Antar: internal cleanliness, cultivated through asanas , Pranayama (physical) and meditation (mental) 2. Santosha: Satisfaction 3. Tapas: Burning, (cleansing and inspiring) 4. Svadhjaya: Self-exploration 5. Ishwra Pranidhana: attitude of acceptance, (altruism) 3. Asana Hatha Yoga 4. Pranayama breathing exercises 5. Pratyahara withdrawal of the senses 6. Dharana concentration 7. Dhyana meditation 8. Samadhi enlightenment

3 1. Yama: Restraint ^ The five Yamas provide rules that determine our behavior towards other people and promote a harmonious relationship with them. This is achieved through the mastery of our affects, which are controlled but not suppressed. The Yamas represent an ideal state which one has to strive for step by step and which has to be practiced again and again. Only through continuous practice can the positive results be seen. The name of the first field "yama" originally meant "reins" Patanjali describes it as a restraint or restriction that we voluntarily impose on ourselves in order to be able to concentrate our efforts. In this way, the reins allow the rider (= mind) to direct his horse (= instincts) where he wants to go. Patanjali Sutra: 2.30 non-violence, communication of the truth, non-stealing, moderation and not-getting are the five rules of restraint. (ahimsa satya asteya brahmacharya aparigraha yama) There are exceptions to these rules. Because of your job, place, time or circumstances, it can be impossible to comply with the regulations at all times. A butcher has to work hard when he kills an animal. You may not tell the truth to a child until later. Perhaps the tradition of a culture requires the acceptance of a gift because a refusal would be viewed as a gross insult. In such cases one does not pollute oneself by not following the rules. However, those who always want to adhere to these regulations at all levels are called Mahavratam (= great oath) in India. Mahatma Ghandi is an example of this. 1. Ahimsa: non-violence ^ Kaya: no physical violence Vacha: no violent speech or language Manas: no violent thinking Ahimsa is the endeavor not to harm any living being, whether in deeds, words or thoughts. Unrestrained letting go of emotions such as anger, judgment, hurt, or fear can cause severe physical and emotional harm, especially in children. People who live in gross emotional states create a life environment that is destructive for the environment. Hence, we should strive to keep our negative emotions under control. Suppressing negative emotions is not a solution and can cause psychological damage or illness in the long run. We have to learn to deal with our negative emotions appropriately. They should be expressed, but without causing new injuries in the other. Most people are largely in control of their affects and do not take violent actions. At the next level, however, we should also control how much negative things we express in words (or in their tone). Verbal violence

4 can be just as powerful and painful as physical violence. Attention and restraint are paramount here, because we often hurt through ignorance or ignorance. A wise saying goes: consider what you put in your mouth (nutrition) and what comes out of it (mindfulness of words). Our negative thoughts can also be perceived unconsciously by other people. Emotions are states of consciousness energy. They are broadcast through posture, facial expression and movement and are usually only received by the other person on an unconscious level. The injury here may be minor, but it is present. Pantanjali describes the effect of this yama as follows: 2.35 Whoever practices nonviolence will not be met with enmity. (ahimsa pratishthayam tat vaira-tyagah) This important rule in yoga should also be applied to oneself. Especially when practicing asanas (= body positions) no pain should occur. The body should not be forced into positions that may harm it. Excessive ambition and competitive thinking are out of place in yoga. 2. Satya: Communication of the Truth ^ Almost all religions and cultures consider the lie to be reprehensible and rank it among the things that a person should refrain from. Yoga also comes to this realization. However, what is meant here is not the absolute truth, but the communication of the truth. In a commentary on the Sutras (by Vyasa) this is described as follows: One should say true and good things, but keep true negative things to oneself. Nor should one utter euphemistic lies. So one should avoid deceptions and not make promises that cannot be kept. It is equally important not to lie to yourself. This only prolongs the spiral of pain. This cannot lead us to the necessary self-knowledge. Anyone who lies must fear exposure and therefore lives in unrest. The mind cannot come in a state of permanent and pure peace. Every form of untruth or hidden truth leads to a strain on the interpersonal relationship. There is "something between two people" that strains the relationship and increases the distance between people. This usually has painful consequences. It is important to realize that our perception and imagination cannot always see the whole truth. Even if we are deeply convinced of it, we should formulate our opinions and views subjectively. I have the feeling that ..., I think that ..., you have an effect on me ... "are formulations that avoid hard fronts and leave the other person with the opportunity to express his or her perception

5 articulate. Most of the time the truth is somewhere in between and the Greeks invented the discussion to find out exactly that. Pantanjali describes the result of this yama as follows: 2.36 He who constantly communicates the truth will find no difference between the deed and its result and he will find support in everything. (satya pratisthayam kriya phala ashrayatvam) 3. Asteya: Non-stealing ^ First of all, this commandment means not to take anything that does not belong to you. If you come too late due to inattention, you steal the other's time. Of course, this also includes no tax evasion, no pirated CDs and no unjustified unemployment benefits. One should curb the desire for things that do not belong to one, otherwise we live in a state of discontent. Furthermore, one should not hold on to things that are not necessary for immediate survival. The pursuit of possession distracts the mind from its spiritual development. However, possessiveness and greed make a person want to possess more and more, regardless of whether or not he has a real need. Greed leads to the fact that more and more time and energy are used to protect and preserve property and also to a growing fear of losing it. Of course every person will lose all of his earthly possessions with "death". In many cases, this results in a growing fear of death with increasing age and wealth. The fear and restlessness prevents spiritual growth, contentment and happiness. If you think about it a little, you realize that you actually have everything you need. And what you want so badly: is it really necessary? Isn't it enough to wear clean clothes? Does it really have to be a brand badge? You may not always have everything you want, but you always get what you need. And then you should always keep in mind that everything material is transient. And that material things in themselves cannot make us happy. In India they say: be grateful to the beggar for giving you the chance to practice giving. Because the more you give, the more you will give back. Pantanjali says: 2.37 He who constantly practices non-stealing, all jewels will be close to him. (asteya pratisthayam sarva ratna upasthanam) This is not only meant in the material sense. Those who are not greedy for possessions and wealth will be trusted by people and with such a person you will be happy to share what you have.

6 4. Brahmacharya: Moderation in all things ^ Brahman-Acharya literally means to move towards the highest knowledge. This can be achieved through moderation in all things, be it eating, drinking, shopping, watching TV or sexuality. You try to avoid extremes. The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter VI, V16) describes it as follows: Yoga is unsuitable for someone who eats too much or does not eat anything. Likewise if someone sleeps too much or does not sleep at all. With food here we mean not only food for the stomach, but also food for the senses. If you play too much computer or stare into the television, your eyes (and thus your mind) are overfed; if you listen to too loud or too much music, you do the same for your ears. The same can happen to the nose (smell) and the skin (touch). Sleep also has a double meaning. It also means contact with the outside world. Too much or too little is unhealthy. The goal is moderation. So says Patanjali: 2.38 Those who constantly exercise moderation gain the strength to develop further. (brahmacharya pratisthayam virya labhah) In most religious yoga traditions, this Yamas is interpreted with a desire for celibacy and monasticism, since sexuality and intimate relationships can be problematic and cost energy. Concentration on spiritual development would be impaired. The student should focus solely on union with God. Patanjali is not religious in this sense (and was criticized for it and rejected as too little "believing"), because he sees faith in God "only" as a means to control the mind, but not as an ultimate goal, as is the view of religions is. 5. Aparigraha: Not getting ^ When I get something as a gift, I feel obliged to give something back. Things tend to balance each other out. Do not covet what another has. Aparigraha also means the greed to always want something. We are jealous of what others have, be it a house, a great job, or a partner. This brings constant restlessness to the mind. Even in yoga class, we are jealous of what another student can do. Our own possibilities are too few for us. Instead of seeing the physical limitations that we experience in yoga practice as a means of self-knowledge, we feel inferior because the person on the neighboring mat is much more flexible. We want to be like others, instead of our own strengths. Pantanjali describes the effect of this yama as follows: 2.39 Those who are firmly anchored in not receiving understand the purpose of their birth (= their life). (aparigraha sthairye janma kathanta sambodhah)

7 2. Niyama: Self-Discipline ^ The five Niyamas are guidelines that describe how body and mind should be treated in order to come to harmony with oneself. Patanjali Sutra: 2.32 Purity, contentment, burning off the impurities, self-inquiry and attitude of acceptance are forms of self-discipline. (shaucha santosha tapah svadhyaya ishvarapranidhana niyamah) 6. Saucha: purity ^ Bahya: outer cleanliness in clothing and body care Antar: inner cleanliness, cultivated through asanas, pranayama (physical) and meditation (mental) In yoga, the body experiences one through asanas and pranayamas Deep cleansing. Sweating is one of the body's most important cleansing functions. With the physical and breathing exercises, heat is generated in the body, which burns impurities and excretes them through sweating. With the so-called Kriyas, special cleansing techniques, the body is further cleansed. This includes colon cleansing as well as cleaning the nose with salt water and fasting. Clarity of thought and purification of the soul are achieved through observance of the Yamas and Niyamas, and the mind is purified through meditation. In the yoga class, Saucha expresses himself by putting away his mat properly after the lesson and respecting the area of ​​other students (e.g. not walking over the mat of other students). With the cleanliness law, we ensure that the energy around us is clean and protected. It also teaches us attention and respect. In Europe it is natural to keep your home clean, to shower regularly, to brush your teeth and to wear decent clothes. Internal cleanliness should also be a matter of course. It starts with what kind of food is being put into the body. The more pollutants (fat, sugar, chemicals) it contains, the more it is burdened and the faster it can become ill. So you should attach importance to wholesome and natural nutrition. Alcohol, nicotine and spicy foods e.g. disturb the mental clarity and burden the body. Spiritual nourishment is just as important as healthy eating. Depending on what I put into my mind, I can pollute and disturb it or relax and clear it. If you watch a horror movie in the evening, you will probably sleep restlessly and find it difficult to relax. Pay attention to what you read or watch on television for the sake of sanity. One should consider what kind and what amounts of spiritual nourishment one consumes on a daily basis. The mind can calm down and concentrate better if it is not saturated with too much mental "junk food". That's not to say you should never watch the news or play a computer game. However, the level of consumption should be moderate. The corresponding Patanjali Sutra ran: 2.41 Those who practice inner and outer cleanliness develop a positive attitude,

8 is more purposeful, controls the senses and gets a better self-image. (sattva shuddhi saumanasya ekagra indriya-jaya atma darshana yogyatvani cha) Inner purification also means that one should avoid negative states of mind. These include longing, anger, deception, greed, arrogance and jealousy. The constant cleansing also lets us see that the body is ephemeral and is constantly changing. This allows us to gain distance from the body, which in turn reduces our fear of death. 2. Santosha: Satisfaction ^ If you only visualize once a day what you actually have in the material as well as in the spiritual sense, if you value what has been given to you, then it is suddenly easy to feel satisfied and even happy. Most of the time we spend complaining about what we don't have. We are particularly blessed in our "western" world. Few people in Europe starve or die from untreated diseases. Almost everyone has a roof over their heads, clean water flows out of the pipes and the light can be switched on in the evening. Most people earn enough money through their work to support themselves and their families or receive financial support from the state. This is not the case in comparison to many other countries in the world. Vacations, cars or vacuum cleaners are basically pure luxury. They make our life very easy and comfortable and have become as normal as good food. We no longer value them, but take them for granted. However, we should never forget that most of the people on this planet are not doing as well as we are in Europe. And already we have gained a bit of satisfaction. In addition to material things, we enjoy our children, experience love from a partner or support from family or friends. All of these things should never be taken for granted.Unfortunately, we do not become aware of them until we have lost them. This Niyama does not mean the passive acceptance of what is already there, which makes us incapable of change. Unbearable or unhappy states need to be changed because they can keep the mind uneasy and make the body sick. However, the appreciation of what is present promotes the inner peace of the soul. In the practice of physical exercises, the asanas, it is important not to overwork the body and not torment it with pain (think of the 1st Yama (Ahimsa) = non-violence). Practice samtosha by being satisfied with what you have achieved so far. Accept that the body may not be as advanced as you would like it to be. There is no such thing as a bad or a good position. There is no competition with other students. You're just as good as you are that day and the next grade will be better. Patanjali describes it as follows: 2.42 He who practices the attitude of contentment attains the highest happiness. (santosha anuttamah sukha labhah)

9 3. Tapas: to burn ^ The word tapa means to burn. We should purify the mind and body more deeply. Techniques such as fasting or silence can cleanse the mind and body of deep-seated impurities that have often been stuck in the body and mind over the years as a result of our lifestyle. Slag substances in the intestine can be eliminated as well as fatty tissue. A day or a week of silence, fasting or even not watching TV can bring more clarity to our thinking. At the same time, we learn to control our sensual pleasure and not to be controlled by it. Then it becomes possible to act correctly and efficiently and to develop foresight and clarity (= special powers). Patanjali said: 2.43 Whoever burns the impurities gains special powers and the impurities are reduced. (kaya indriya siddhih ashuddhi kshayat tapasah) Tapas also means enthusiasm. Burn with passion, don't give up at the first difficulty, continue until you have reached your goal or have to take a different path. For example any kind of addiction can only be overcome with a good helping of tapa. 4. Svadhjaya: Self-inquiry ^ To look inside and ask yourself: Who am I? What is my aim? Where am I from? are important questions in a person's life. When we turn our attention inward and watch ourselves vigilantly, we get to know ourselves better. This can mean keeping a diary, deciding on therapy, or consciously taking time for yourself. Those who know the real reasons for their feelings and reactions can handle them better and deal with the world in a more relaxed manner. Those who know their strengths can deal with their weaknesses better. Those who understand themselves better understand others better too. Intensive self-exploration in different situations promotes tolerance, spiritual development and broadens the horizon and ultimately contributes to promoting peace with ourselves and thus in this world. In a yoga class, it means looking inward while holding a position. One explores the body and its reactions. This is how you perceive changes, feel blockages and get to the bottom of feelings. In this way you can recognize your limits, see your strengths and weaknesses and then accept them. You step out of the competition with other people and concentrate only on yourself. Those who know their weaknesses and strengths are less likely to be duped by others and do not have to seek confirmation from outside. He finds it in himself. This Niyama recommends studying the holy books (Bible, Bhagavad Gita, Koran, etc.) for the purpose of self-inquiry. Dealing with this wise content promotes our self-reflection. It can build up, spiritually stimulate and produce new insights.

10 Svadhjaya can also be translated with the study of family history. Knowing about our family's past will help us better understand the current situation and our position in it. This is an important step towards self-awareness. Patanjali says: 2.44 Through self-knowledge we come into contact with our inner divinity. (svadhyayat ishta samprayogah) 5. Ishwra Pranidhana: Attitude of Acceptance ^ This Niyama suggests that every act should be viewed as service and no reward should be expected for one's deeds. It means accepting whatever life brings. If we think too much about the result of our actions, then we concentrate less on the action itself. The mind is disturbed in its clarity and we are emotionally too fixated on the fruits of our actions. Pain arises from unexpected results or from not getting the expected results. If I now adopt an attitude of acceptance, this pain cannot arise. Patanjali explains: 2.45 Through the attitude of acceptance one attains the special power of absolute knowledge. (samadhi siddhih ishvarapranidhana) In the religious interpretations of yoga this niyama is interpreted as devotion to God. The recognition of a higher force (simplest term: God) causes the ego to be subordinated to a higher principle. If one surrenders to "God", then one realizes that we are his tool and that the I does not rule. If you now ask yourself: How could God allow this mass murder, that injustice or the death of innocent children, then you have to realize that God can only work through us. God is in each of us. God is not a power that descends from heaven and prevents the next world war. God is in every person who can then decide whether to take part in the next world war or to oppose it. If one surrenders oneself to God and practices humility, then one does not deal excessively with one's creation either. The human ego screws back on a healthy perspective and we not only meet our fellow human beings, but also the planet more respectfully and carefully. There is also something very comforting about the belief that there is a God and that everything that happens in one life serves a higher purpose. Religious or spiritual rituals can give our life meaning and structure, which we can use especially in extreme situations such as e.g. Can hold onto and orientate death or birth.

11 3. Asana: Physical exercises ^ The third stage of Ashtanga yoga is to keep our body healthy so that we can go our way to enlightenment in health and strength. The body is seen as a car that can transport us safely and healthily through life. Asana means restriction of movement. By holding the body in one position, pressure is exerted on certain parts of the body and blood circulation is promoted there. The deeper breathing (ujjayi breathing) in physical work improves the supply of oxygen-rich blood. This stimulates the metabolism and digestion, and the internal and external organs are better supplied with blood. This also means that the body cells are better supplied with nutrients and waste materials, such as dead body cells are removed more quickly. This creates a regeneration of the body so that old yogis often look amazingly young. At the same time, maintaining the posture strengthens and stretches muscles and tendons. In this way, the muscles remain supple and efficient into old age. Blockages dissolve with increasing practice and the nervous system experiences a harmonization. With regular practice, you will notice amazingly quickly how the body becomes more flexible and softer. It is also pleasant that after a yoga class you not only feel calm and balanced, but also powerful and energetic. States of exhaustion like after a sports lesson usually do not occur. Many mental health problems first manifest themselves in physical form. Often it is blockages, tense muscles or organic malaise. The asanas can help here via the physical path of the psyche. By relaxing the muscles, improving blood circulation and promoting mobility, illnesses are prevented and not only the body but also the mind is strengthened. Since the mind is fully focused on physical work during the practice of the asanas, it can rest. Even if you go to a yoga class with great emotional stress, you often forget your problems after a short time and go home more relaxed and more balanced. The problems don't go away, but you have more strength to deal with them. Great emphasis is placed on the mobility of the spine, which surrounds the spinal cord. The exercises thus have an impact on the central nervous system in the brain. As the asanas are performed calmly and with concentration, attention is focused on the internal processes. The mind is trained here to focus and concentrate. Asanas should therefore be practiced as a preliminary stage to pranayama in order to keep the spine flexible and to be able to sit upright for a longer period of time without being distracted from the mental exercises by excruciating pain. Asanas must have two qualities, without which the exercises are pure gymnastics and acrobatics: 1. Sthirma: stability 2. Sukham: comfort If the body is stable and anchored, this quality also affects the mind. I achieve stability mainly by holding bandhas, a physical closure. Furthermore, the position must not cause severe pain, you should be able to enjoy it. No violence should be done to the body (think again here of the 1st Yama: Ahimsa: non-violence). It can take a while to reach the quality of comfort, but the more regularly you practice, the easier the positions become.

12 Patanjali demands: 2.46 The posture (mental and physical) is stable and balanced. (sthira sukham asanam) Mastery in a posture is achieved when it is easy for one, when one can hold it relaxed and easy and is able to meditate in it. Patanjali says: 2.47 The effort ends with relaxation and meditation in the infinite. (prayatna shaithilya ananta samapattibhyam) 2.48 As a result, there are no longer any attacks by the opposing pairs (hot-cold, good-bad, up-down). (Tato dvandva ânabhighâtah) 4. Pranayama breathing exercises ^ The breathing exercises in Asthanga Yoga are primarily aimed at purifying the body on a subtle level, learning to control the breath and having a calming effect on the mind. However, the exercises also have healing "side effects" or can e.g. Support freedivers in training or pregnant women in preparation for the birth. The heartbeat slows down through conscious and deep breathing, as breathing and heartbeat are connected in a ratio of 1: 4. The heart can rest and the body is supplied with more oxygen due to the improved gas exchange in the lungs. So Pranayama can healing processes such as support with asthma. Pranayama influences the absorption of the universal energy (= Prana) through the breath. Through various breathing exercises, heat is generated in the body and thus impurities are removed. The exercises serve not only to cleanse the body but also to cleanse the psyche and lift people to a higher spiritual level, because by controlling the breath, mental control is gained. An important point in most breathing exercises is breath holding. Here I am submitting an instinctive process to voluntary control. After a short time, my instinct will tell you to keep breathing. By means of my will, I can postpone this point in time. Out of the conflict instinct will control over the body and over the mind grows. Control of the breath is a prerequisite for concentration and meditation. Patanjali describes it this way: 2.52 This (the holding of the breath) unveils the light. (Tatah kshîyate prakâshâvaranam) 2.53 And makes the mind fit for Dharana (concentration). (Dharanasu cha yogyata manasah)

13 5. Pratyahara Withdrawal of the Senses ^ Asanas and Pranayama teach us control over the body and breath. Controlling the mind is a much more difficult exercise, but we are well prepared for it with the first four levels. The first step inward is pratyahara: this means withdrawing the senses from the outside world inward to calm the mind. The senses let us experience the world, they push outwards. The self-inquiry goes inward. Here we reduce the senses, switch off and explore the inner world. For example, if we a good book is captivating, then we can no longer hear the dripping faucet. The sense of hearing is switched off. At this level of consciousness, yoga can do this at will. He can completely close his senses and concentrate completely inward. The senses now effortlessly follow the object of concentration. Patanjali describes it this way: 2.54 When the senses are withdrawn from their corresponding objects, then the mind realizes its own nature. (Sva-vishayâsamprayoge chitta-svarûpânukâra ivendriyânâm pratyâhârah) 2.55 From this arises the highest mastery of the senses. (Tatah paramâ vashyatendriyânâm) The withdrawal of the senses is the preparation for meditation. That is why this stage is seen as a bridge to spiritual yoga. It is for people who are looking for a higher spiritual level or enlightenment (= liberation from the wheel of rebirth). 6. Dharana Concentration ^ Holding and maintaining concentration, attention on an object, in order to come to the emptiness of meditation. It should always be the same object, e.g. Smell, taste, light flame - image, feeling, sound, Vipassana meditation takes your own body as an object, e.g. Finger mudras. Breath is also possible. With Dharana, learn to keep the mind focused. Consistent practice will deepen this ability. Patanjali begins here with a new chapter: III.1 Dharana is the fixation of the mind on an object. (Desha-bandhash chittasya dhâranâ)


15 7. Dhyana Meditation ^ Continuous meditation on an object creates the experience of resting in one's own center. This takes a lot of practice. Our minds are constantly bombarded with impressions, much more so in today's mass media era than in the past. Mind is constantly stressed by this excessive demand. It takes constant practice and concentration to purify the mind before it can come to rest in Atman (advaita vedanta = teaching of nonduality). Dhyana is like the flowing of honey. Steady and even. It is what is called a flow experience in modern happiness research: You flow with the thing, you don't act, but it (God?) Acts through you. These are the moments when a person achieves the most extraordinary, feels completely detached and free. You no longer think, you no longer make anything conscious, it just happens. Patanjali describes it as follows: III.2 There is meditation where consciousness is continuously one. (Tatra pratyayaikatânatâ dhyânam) people and world view (Vedanta (Atman) or Samkhya (Purusa) view)

16 8. Samadhi enlightenment ^ The duality of the world (good-bad, cold-warm, above-below, happiness-unhappiness etc.) no longer has any influence on the enlightened self. Everything is accepted with the same equanimity. There are no more ups and downs in the soul, there is complete inner balance. You come to rest completely, nothing can stir in a wave anymore. State of the highest bliss, which goes hand in hand with the feeling of oneness, the dissolution in the absolute. In the trance-like, enlightened state, the mind is completely restrained and all impure thoughts are silent. The state of the Buddha, the advaita.