I acknowledge this picture from the Internet.

Many Hindus believe that the origin of Yoga, as enunciated by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutra as the process of Ashtanga Yoga, is the Bhagavad Gita, considered as a far older Hindu Scripture.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna, God Incarnate, teaches his disciple Arjuna, the human template, the fundamentals of Yoga on the battlefield.

Bhagavad Gita is a metaphor. The battlefield is our daily life. We are Arjuna, caught in the illusion of what we see as permanent in this material world. Krishna is our inner Self, the inner energy, the silent inner voice, waiting to tell us who we are, what we are here for,  how to be what we should be, and what reality truly is.

Bhagavad Gita is about how to be what we should be!

Bhagavad Gita is about how we should conduct ourselves. It gives no techniques to sit, squat, contort, breathe and meditate. Krishna tells us how we should act in our daily life. He teaches us Yoga, the process of uniting with our eternal inner energy. Patanjali expanded on this in his Yoga Sutra.

Our conduct has two parts. First is Yama, the transcendental code of conduct. This comprises five elements.

  • Satya, Truth: Being truthful in thoughts, words and action always.
  • Ahimsa, Non-violent: Not harming anyone and anything in thoughts, words and action.
  • Asteya, Non-coveting: Not desiring anything we haven’t earned.
  • Aparigraha, Need based Living living simply to fulfill basic needs.
  • Brahmacharya or Seeking Inner Energy: Always moving towards the inner energy and its realization. 

The second part, Niyama, is about personal conduct in terms of hygiene etc.This consists of five attributes.

  • Shaucha, Purity: Inner and outer hygiene
  • Santosha, Contentment: Being happy with what one has
  • Tapas, Austerity: Accepting the rigors of the dualities of life
  • Svadhyaya, Self Learning to discover one;s inner energy
  • Ishvarapranidhana, Surrender to Self: Merging with one’s inner energy

Definitions can vary. Brahmacharya is often interpreted, very wrongly, as celibacy. Yoga, in Hindu Scriptures, does not recommend celibacy anywhere. Gita and Patanjali advocate renunciation of desires, greed, lust, fear and other such dis-empowering emotions and feelings, as a means to reach inner energy.

Yoga is not about techniques. It is a way of life. It is about having the right intent while living.

Unless one understands and practices these ten principles of Yama and Niyama, no one can say that they practice Yoga..To talk about YOga, one needs to walk the path of good conduct.