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Main article: Niyama

Niyama is observance of five canons: shaucha (internal and external purity), san
tosha (contentment), tapas (austerity), svadhyaya (study of religious books and
repetitions of mantras), and ishvarapranidhana (self-surrender to God and his wo
rship). Niyama, unlike yama, prescribes mental exercises to train the mind to co
ntrol emotions.
Main article: Asana
Asana in the sense of a posture that one can hold for a period of time, staying
relaxed and with normal (calm) breathing (or, as some sources say, "without effo
In English, the Sanskrit word asana means "seat", the place where one sits; or p
osture, position of the body (any position). Asanas (in the sense of Yoga "postu
re") are said to derive from the various positions of animals' bodies (whence ar
e derived most of the names of the positions). 84 asanas are considered to be th
e main postures, of which the highest are Shirshasan (headstand) and Padmasan (l
The practice of asanas affects the following aspects or planes of the human bein
Physical (blood circulation, inner organs, glands, muscles, joints and nerve
Psychological (developing emotional balance and stability, harmony)
Mental (improved ability to concentrate, memory)
Consciousness (purifying and clarifying consciousness/awareness)
From the raja yoga perspective, it is considered that the physical postures and
pranayama serve to prepare the body and mind for the following steps: pratyahara
, dharana, dhyana and samadhi (withdrawal of the senses, contemplation, meditati
on, and state of expanded or transcendental consciousness, where the activity of
the mind ceases and "The Knower and The Object of Knowledge Become One").[citat
ion needed]
Main article: Pranayama
Pra?ayama is made out of two Sanskrit words (pra?a = life energy; ayama = contro
l or modification). Breathing is the medium used to achieve this goal. The mind
and life force are correlated to the breath. Through regulating the breathing an
d practicing awareness on it, one learns to control prana.
According to Raja yoga, there are three main types (phases, units, stadia) of pr
Purak (inhalation)
Rechak (exhalation)
Kumbhak (holding the breath); which appears as:
Antara kumbhak (withholding the breath after inhalation)
Bahar kumbhak (withholding the breath after exhalation)
Keval kumbhak (spontaneous withholding of the breath)
There are numerous techniques of pranayama, each with their specific goals. The
main techniques are:
Surya Bhedana
Candra Bhedana

Nadi Shodhana (anuloma viloma)

Plavini (bhujangini)
All pranayama practice ultimately works toward purification of the nadis (energy
channels) and the awakening of kundalini shakti at the muladhara chakra. The aw
akening of kundalini energy (also described as the awakening of divine conscious
ness or wisdom), and its ascent to the crown chakra is the final goal of raja yo
Main article: Pratyahara
Pratyahara is bringing the awareness to reside deep within oneself, free from th
e senses and external world. The Goal of Pratyahara is not to disrupt the commun
ication from the sense organ to the brain. The awareness is far removed from the
five senses. Pratyahara cannot be achieved without achievement of the preceding
limbs (pranayama, niyama, etc.). The awareness comes to rest deep in the inner
space, and during this time the yogi's breath will be temporarily suspended. Pra
tyahara should not just be likened to concentration or meditation, etc. It is a
yogic practice that takes on adequacy with the prior 4 limbs as prerequisites.
Main article: Dharana
Yoga starts from concentration. Concentration merges into meditation. Meditation
ends in samadhi. Retention of breath, brahmacharya, satvic (pure) food, seclusi
on, silence, satsanga (being in the company of a guru), and not mixing much with
people are all aids to concentration. Concentration on bhrakuti (the space betw
een the two eyebrows) with closed eyes is preferred. The mind can thus be easily
controlled, as this is the seat for the mind.[clarification needed][citation ne
Main article: Dhyana in Hinduism
In Dhyana, the meditator is not conscious of the act of meditation (i.e. is not
aware that s/he is meditating) but is only aware that s/he exists (consciousness
of being), and aware of the object of meditation. Dhyana is distinct from Dhara
na in that the meditator becomes one with the object of meditation. This means t
hat the meditator although aware of the object through meditation detaches him/e
rself from its existence in the physical world. Much like meditation focused on
the breath Dhyana is rooted in the concentration of not being concentrated.[13][
The final stage of meditation in dhyana is considered to be jhana. At this stage
of meditation, one does not see it as a meditational practice, but instead merg
es with the idea and thought. One cannot reach a higher stage of consciousness w
ithout jhana.[15]
Main article: Samadhi
Meditation on Om with bhava removes obstacles in sadhana and helps to attain sam
adhi. Avidya (ignorance), asmita (egoism), raga-dvesha (likes and dislikes), abh
inivesha (clinging to mundane life) are the five kleshas or afflictions.
Samadhi is of two kinds:

Savikalpa, samprajnata or sabija; and

Nirvikalpa, asamprajnata or nirbija.
In savikalpa or sabija, there is triputi or the triad (knower, known and knowled
ge). Savitarka, nirvitarka, savichara, nirvichara, sasmita and saananda are the
different forms of savikalpa samadhi. In nirvikalpa samadhi, nirbija samadhi or
asamprajnata samadhi there is no triad.
In the last sutra (4,34), Patajali says the soul reaches its end in liberation, e
nlightenment, kaivalya.
Main article: Samyama
In Vibhuti Pada of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, pratyahara is further developed int
o concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and into the state of absorption
(samadhi). Last three states are what can be called the internal limbs of Ashta
nga Yoga, which when mastered in succession are the foundation of samyama. Accor
ding to Baba Hari Dass, samyama is perfect control of mental concentration ; and "T
he samyama is not complete unless there is a fusion of these three processes of
concentration .[16] Furthermore, different aspects of samadhi and samyama and thei
r resulting achievements have relation to viveka khyati, or discriminating facul
ty, which is the ability of proper discernment.
See also
Portal icon
Yoga portal
Bhakti yoga
Jnana yoga
Karma yoga
Shinshin-toitsu-do, Japanese yoga
James Mallinson Hatha Yoga An entry on ha?hayoga for the Brill Encyclopedia
of Hinduism Vol.3 (2011)
James Mallinson Nath Sampradaya An entry for the Brill Encyclopedia of Hindu
ism Vol.3 (2011)
Feuerstein 1978, p. 108.
Tola, Dragonetti & Prithipaul 1987, p. x.
Wuyastik 2011, p. 33.
Maas 2006.
Michaels 2004, p. 267.
White 2014, p. 6.
White 2014, p. 16.
White 2011, p. 20-21.
"The Yoga Sutras of Maharishi Patanjali - a translation and commentary by Yo
gacharya Shivaji Mizner"
Swami Kriyananda, J. Donald Walters, The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, p.100
Underwood 2005.
Smith 2005.
Dictionary of World Philosophy (2001), Dhyana
Dass, Baba Hari (2013). Vibhuti Pada (1st ed.). Santa Cruz, CA: Sri Rama Pub
lishing. p. 7-8. ISBN 0-918100-24-0.