‘Ashtanga’ (Eight Limbed) Yoga’ Practice – Rules and Regulations

Himavantha was bewildred to witness the Virat Rupa of Devi and when She ended that view and gone back to Her normal Self which by itself was fantastic, Himavantha emboldened himself as to how he could recall Her Physical Form from time to time. Maha Devi suggested that the only plausible way to retain Her image would be through Yoga Practice . The basic step in Yoga is to integrate the ‘Jeevatma’ with ‘Paramathma’ and win over the ‘Arishat Varga’ or the Six enemies of lust, anger, greediness, infatuation, ego and envy. Then one follows ‘ Yama ’(the tenfold practice of ‘Ahimsa’or nonviolence, ‘Satyam’ or truthfulness, ‘asteyam’ or non-pilfering of mind and deed; ‘Brahmacharya’ or celibacy, ‘Mita Ahara’ or frugal eating, ‘Bahya anthara Suchi’ or external and internal cleanliness, ‘Naithikitha’ or morality, ‘Daya’ or mercy, ‘Kshamata’ or pardon and ‘Sthirata’ or stability), ‘Niyama ’ (the ten fold practice of ‘Tapasya’ or atonement, ‘Astikyatha’ or unflinching faith in God, Vedas, Devas and Virtue; ‘Santhushti’ or contentment, ‘Danaseelatha’ or charity for good causes,‘ Puja’ or worship of Almighty, ‘Siddhanta Acharana’ or practice of established precepts, ‘Hri’or refrain from evil acts, ‘Sraddha’ or fortitude in performing acts of faith, ‘Japam’ or repetitive and silent utterances of Manthras, Gayatri, and prayers; and ‘ Homams’ or daily oblations to Sacred Fire) and five ‘ Asanas’ or postures viz. 1)‘Padmasana’ comprising of crossing the legs and drawing the feet of legs on the opposite thighs and simultaneously cathcing the toes of the right leg with the right hand right round the back and vice versa and sitting upright with ease ( Note: As this posture is practised only by expert Yogis, it would be sufficient to cross the hands on opposite thighs without streching the hands from the back); 2) ‘Swastikasan’ or place the soles of the feet completely under the thighs and sit erect; 3)‘Bhadrasan’ or placing the two heels on the two sides of the two nerves of the testicles near the anus and catching the two heels by the two hands at the lower parts of the testicles and sitting at ease. 4) ‘Vajra Asana’ or the Diamond posture consists of placing the feet on the two thighs and placing the fingers below the two thighs with hands and finally 5) ‘Virasan’ comprising sitting cross on the hams or hollow area behind the knee in placing the right foot under the right thigh and vice versa sitting straight and at ease.

The next step in Yoga is Pranayama comprising three processes viz. Puraka or breathing in by ‘Ida’ or left nostril and recite ‘OM’ sixteen times, then Kumbhaka or retain the breath in ‘Susumna’nadi and reciting OM sixty four times, and Rechaka or exhale by ‘Pingala’nadi or right nostril by reciting OM thiry two times slowly. Pranayama may be done as many times as possible, say twelve times to start with and increase the number further to sixteen or so forth. Pranayama could be ‘Sagarbha’ or any Mantra of one’s choice or Vigarbha or just recite the Pranava Mantra or OM. When one does Pranayama fast, one would sweat out and that is a good practice. But that is for beginners only. When the exercise is performed faster and longer, then one gets body shivers which is of a middle order. The ultimate is when the practice reaches the peak then one would rise in the air! Pranayama follows Pratyahara , which means allowing senses to travel to specific objects spontaneously and forcibly reversing the travel from the objects back to senses. One has to hold ‘Prana Vayu’ or Life providing air in one’s body system at twelve places viz. toes, heels, knees, thighs, genitals, navel, heart, neck, throat, soft palate, nose, middle of the eye brows or ‘Bhrukuti’ and from these finally to the top of the head or Brahma Nadi.; this practice is known as ‘ Dharana’ or holding up the Prana Vayu at each organ. Thereafter, the Yogi has to execute ‘ Dhyana’ or meditatation by clearing the mind and concentrating one’s choice of Almighy. The Ultimate peak is known as ‘Samadhi’ or Bliss, which could be in the form of ‘Samprajnata’ or ‘Sa-vikalpik’ when there is the consciousness of who is the Doer, what is the Doing and which is the Deed or the Actor, Action and Act, but in all these cases the Target is only one that is Eternal Almighty; simply stated in other words, Savikalpik Samadhi distinguishes the Atma and Paramathma, seeking to unify one into another. The Nirvikalpik Samadhi sounds like Aham Brahma Asmi, or God is me! Maha Bhagavati thus described in brief the pracitice of Ashtanga Yoga or the Eight Limbed Yoga practice viz. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham

Kamakoti.org presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam.

Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by
V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager,
India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi
Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India
The author can be contacted at raovdn@yahoo.co.in