The Yoga of eight members

The scheme of the classical Yoga's eight members posed by Patanjali from Yama up to samādhi. It is basic but very fruitful, as it reminds us that Yoga is an inseparable whole which encompasses ethics, a method and a transcendence. Julian Peragón Arjuna will clearing us step by step this scheme based on his new, excellent book, The synthesis of Yoga.

Illustration: Eva Veleta

They are eight rungs of a ladder that we raise with patience and with enthusiasm, knowing that we enter an inner journey through unknown territories that are not free from obstacles.

However, more than a staircase, the scheme of Patanjali looks like a tree that grows from roots to fruits in a progressive time sequence, but in the context of organic growth and non-linear. The tree matures as a whole, some parts before others, is true, but connected them all together. We could not have roots strong and, on the other hand, a figure branches, or a few green leaves but fragile flowers.

We refer to the tree because it is a symbolic representation of the whole. Their roots penetrate the Earth and its branches connected with the sky making axis of the world. Below, more material and higher, more spiritual. It is an archetypal image which lies in the vast majority of traditions and which reminds us: strength, fertility and longevity. Also in Yoga we work as thoroughly as the tree does in its growth and thus create conditions for health and vigor.

The seed of intention

One of the Yogis more respected of the last century (and principles of this) was B.K.S Iyengar, who associated with each of the members of the asthānga-yoga with a part of the archetypal tree. Like this Yama It would be up to the roots, the trunk to niyama, the branches to Āsana, leaves to prānāyāma, the bark to pratyāhāra, the SAP to dhāranā, flowers to dhyāna and, finally, the fruits to samādhi. There is a consistency in each of them, and reinforces the idea that all the elements of Yoga are collaborating to produce some juicy fruit, fruit that will give a new life.

In this sense, our practice is like a tree that is born of the intention of a seed and that every day are going watering, pruning and fertilizing to become a tree. The practice must have roots that connect with our daily needs, but also count on high branches that raise our aspirations. There is a practicality in the Yoga and also, don't forget, a mystique.

Aphorisms and interpretations

One of the things that more clashes when reading the Yoga-Sutras is that they are written in the form of aphorisms, maximum or short phrases whose function is not the develop a specific topic but do indent of an explanation that will come after the hand of teachers. It is as if we only read the headlines of a newspaper: we would have a brief idea of what happens in the world but we would miss the details, the plot and the characters involved in the story.

Sūtra means "thread", precisely the storyline that will be then widely commented orally. Traditional knowledge (even today) has been transmitted in this way. It must be understood that in those times books were hand-made in a very time-consuming way and its distribution was reduced to an elite. The common was the word that was transmitted from master to disciple. To ensure the loyalty of the teaching through generations setting Essentials in short phrases that could be repeated exactly, just as we sing a song and learn the chorus in an easy way. LI sutras son claves nemotécnicas que serán utilizadas en las sentadas con los maestros y que abren las posibles discusiones sobre el tema. Seguramente los jóvenes que ingresaban en un Ashram recitaban y cantaban los sutras antes de saber el significado exacto de los mismos.

Cuando vamos a comprar algún ejemplar de los Yoga-Sutras lo elegimos dependiendo de los comentarios y sub-comentarios añadidos a los sutras sin los cuales sería muy difícil, como decíamos, entender la amplitud del conocimiento sugerido. Encontramos comentaristas que se ciñen más a lo que dicen las palabras en sánscrito insertas en el aforismo, de otros (aunque igualmente valiosos) que utilizan el sūtra as a springboard to talk about a much broader knowledge which we can elucidate on the same text. There are many current commentators, many of them teachers from a lineage of certain Yoga, which are based, in turn, on the ancient commentators who have left his vision of the same in writing, as the Yoga-bhāshya, the oldest comment of the Yoga-Sutraswritten by Vyāsa towards the 5th century.

Patanjali and its purpose

If little is known of Vyāsa, nor do we know much of Patanjali. There seems to be several Patanjali written at different times. One of them is the Grammarian who wrote the Treaty Mahaa-bhāshya (Great comment) on Sanskrit in the 2nd century B.c. and, apparently, the Yoga-Sutras they are written from the second century a.d., according to experts. Obviously, no one can live so long. Most likely, that the name of Patanjali is a title or a kind of compiler. You may even not a person but a group of initiates who systematized knowledge. No matter; is our historical itch you want to know when, how and who, but for the traditional mentality the idea of author had no relevance because perhaps - and here we have an interesting message- the important thing is not who and when were they written the Yoga-Sutras but the presence of the same.

This ambiguity has fared well with the hindu tradition to elevate to the category of myth to Patanjali. According to legend, Patañjali was an incarnation of Ananta (also called Shesha), Lord of snakes with many heads on which the God Vishnu rests. Dance of the God Shiva witnessed, dipped it in an indescribable happiness. Ananta (meaning infinite) wanted to learn to dance that way to colmar also delight their God Vishnu. To learn this dance had to incarnate and was a virtuous woman, Gonikā, who prayed to the Sun God for having a child with sufficient nobility that convey their knowledge, chosen. When it took water in their hands as an offering, he felt a small snake in his gap immediately adopted human form, he gave it the name of Patanjali. Pat means "fall" and Anjalia "offering" that is made with hands together. Patanjali, He greets with folded hands, It embodies to convey to the world this "dance" harmonic, beautiful and profound that is Yoga. In iconography he is represented with the lower half with snake-like and the superior human-shaped.

Patanjali begins the Yoga-Sutras defining Yoga, and does so in a forceful way in two aphorisms. The best known (yogash citta-vritti-nirodhah) It tells us that Yoga is the restriction of the fluctuations of the mind. Surely refers to the ordinary fluctuations of the mind which tend to the turmoil and confusion, and whose detention allow us a greater centering. Why not just only this sūtra to define Yoga. It is necessary to add the following aphorism (tadā drashthuh svarūpe ' vasthānam) where indicated the for what this be centered. Mental calmness that we seek in the Yoga is to integrate ourselves with the self that we are. We could say that if we eliminate, or at least reduce, the noise of our thoughts, we can listen to the "voice" of consciousness: luminous and serene, eternal and infinite.

Except for special beings who are born in the State of Yoga, the rest should practice. And this practice requires a very detailed structure not to get lost. There is a Yoga every day which is the Kriya — yoga, that purifies us and reduces the roots of suffering, but we must not lose the thread of a great method which is the asthānga-yoga, that speaks to us of a comprehensive approach that body must be tempered and the mind that his so that the spirit can manifest itself. It is then when the Yogi (and the yogini) develops a capacity of understanding that goes beyond what was the conditioned mind; You can investigate in the simple and in the complex, small and big, immediate and in the eternal, in the visible invisible, i.e., you can analyze the situation and can synthesize it. This allows a deep knowledge of himself, and his actions, and spontaneous, they will be free from error and confusion. In this regard, the Yoga-Sutras They promote a practical spirituality that brings us closer to our eternal essence and which, incidentally, gives us the tools to get out of suffering.

Adaptation to the present day

When we do Yoga's history, is to know him more fully, but also to show that the yogic tradition has received many influences it has hosted in her womb and that, over the centuries, has adapted to the new visions of their followers. We also believe that Yoga is currently evolving and giving answers to our needs adapting, not without some difficulty, to the conditions of modern life. It is necessary that Yoga, its philosophy and its techniques, is sufficiently broad and flexible to make this life adjustment.

In the following installments will see each of these eight members posed by Patanjali in book II of the Yoga-Sutras, with an affordable language and real examples of our daily lives.

Julian Peragón Arjuna, Trainer of teachers, directs the school Yoga synthesis in Barcelona. He is the author of the book Meditation synthesis (Ed. acanthus).

His latest book is The synthesis of Yoga. The 8 steps of practice. Acanthus publishing.

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By • Jul 3, 2017 • section: Arjuna