I don’t represent Bihar School of Yoga or for that matter, Amazon!

On this topic, Bihar School of Yoga is perhaps the most authentic source today both for yoga practice and yoga theory. From many of their books that i have read, they do not mislead.

There is only one Yoga. There is no hot yoga, cold yoga, nude yoga and porn yoga, as i mentioned in an earlier post, How  not to Yoga. What then is Yoga?

There is only one Yoga. Patanjali explained this in 196 short verses or sutras a few thousand years ago. Most scholars refer to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as Ashtanga Yoga or the eight limb yoga process. In simple terms the eight limbs are:

  • Yama or moral conduct comprising five attributes
  • Niyama or personal conduct comprising five attributes
  • Asana or physical improvement techniques
  • Pranayama or breath energy improvement techniques
  • Pratyahara or controlling sensory inputs that give rise to modifications of the mind
  • Dharana or centering the mind
  • Dhyana or meditation.
  • Samadhi or identification of the individual inner energy with the Cosmic energy

Scholars may offer more complex explanations. The point is this. Yoga,a s prescribed by Patanjali, is an active process, not a theoretical treatise. Yoga refers to the process of uniting mind body spirit, leading to the realization of our inner energy congruence with the cosmic energy.

Though one can practice each of these limbs independently, the true realization leading to the eighth step of samadhi, which is what Yoga is all about, happens only when one works on all eight limbs.

Modern schools of Yoga, especially in the West or designed for Western customers, cater mostly to Asana, the third limb. A few may teach pranayama, breath control. Even fewer attempt dharana, centering techniques, and call them wrongly meditation.

All these steps need to integrate into the eight limb process, leading to ‘true’ meditation, which in turn leads to the uniting process of samadhi.

In my personal experience, the only technique that comes anywhere close to Patanjali’s definition of meditation, which he calls dhyana, is the Zazen process in Zen. This is just sitting, just being, not doing, but aware of all. It’s difficult, very difficult.

Zazen, the seventh step of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga, the eight limb Yoga, requires the support of all the earlier six steps and their practice.