Yoga is a Hindu way of life leading t spritual liberation. It is included among the six orthodox schools of Indian philosophy. As early as the 5th century A.D., Patanjali arranged in an orderly way its basic principles in his ‘Yogasutra’.
According to yoga, spritual liberation occurs when the soul is freed from the bondage of matter. The yoga process includes eight stages. The first two are ethical preparations. They are yama or abstinence from violence,stealing,falsehood,lust and greed for riches and niyama or observance of cleanliness,contentment,austerity and study.
The next two stages are physical preparations that include asanas, a series of exercises to enable the aspirant to hold one posture for an extended period without physical discomfort; and pranayama, or breathing exercises to encourage complete respiratory relaxation. The 5th stage ‘pratyahara’,involves control of the senses.
These first five stages constitute the external aids to yoga. The remaining three stages are the internal aids. They are dhaarana,the ability to hold awareness of one object for a long period of time;dhyana,concentrated meditation and samaadhi, the final stage,in which the object of meditation and the meditator become one.
Today , it is the external aspect of the yoga method that is attracting universal attention. It has great importance in promoting overall physical wellbeing. In India, Tv programmes demonstrating yogic exercises are popular. Also an increasing number of schools are incorporating yogic asanas in their curriculum.