What is Yoga? What are the different parts of Yoga?

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What is Yoga

The word Yoga is drived from a Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’ which means conjunction.  So, simply Yoga is a process in which we try to make coordination between our body+Mind+ Soul. Today the human being suffers from problems in modern lifestyle. Diseases like stress, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure are slowly killing us. While giving solution to all these diseases, yoga balances the mind, body and intellect and ends the our tension and and gives pleasure.

The origin of yoga is thousands of years old. According to the Shruti tradition, Lord Shiva is the first Aadi Guru, Yogi or Adiyogi of Yoga. Thousands of years ago, Adiyogi had given a deep knowledge of yoga to the mythical Saptarishis on the banks of Kanti Sarovar Lake in the Himalayas. From these Saptarishis, this knowledge has reached the humans today. It is the land of India, where the science of yoga is fully expressed.

According to Indian Prime minister Shree Narendera Modi, “Yoga is a unique gift given to the world by the sages of India. Sri Bhagavad is the Gita, Samatvam Yoga Uchhyate, it means equanimity is called Yoga. Yoga is the way to get free from disease.”

Yoga gives strength to our thinking, work, knowledge and dedication and we continue grow to become better human beings.

Generally People think that Yoga is only a physical exercise called Asana. But Yoga is not only Asnas but it’s a discipline in which we follow some rules (called Niyam which makes us mentally strong) + some physical exercises(called Asanas). Or we can say Yoga is a philosophy of self consciousness in which we control our mind and make coordination between our thoughts and actions. According to yogic texts, yoga practice unites individual consciousness with universal consciousness.  One who has experienced this existence in yoga is called a yogi.

What is Ashtanga Yoga?

Ashtanga Yoga has been discussed in Maharishi Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Maharishi Patanjali wrote Yogadarshan, an accurate and authentic scripture as an explanation of yoga. Yogadarshan is a very important and authentic book. The yoga of Maharishi Patanjali is called Ashtanga Yoga or Raja Yoga. Yoga Darshan have described eight types of means for the purification of the body, mind and soul through yoga and the attainment of the divine, which is called Ashtanga Yoga. Parts of Ashtanga Yoga

  1. Yam
  2. Niyam
  3. Asana
  4. Pranayama
  5. Pratyahar
  6. Dharna
  7. Dhyan (Meditation)
  8. Samadhi.

These 8 steps divided in 2 types of Yog-

  1. Bahirang yog – Yam, Niyam, Asanas, Pranayama, Pratyahar.
  2. Antarang yog – Dharna, Dhyan, Samadhi.


Yum is the 1st step of Ashtang Yoga. Yam in Yoga is not the same as Lord Yam (God of death) but it’s a set of 5 social ethics. Yum learning is about our dealing with the outer world. These 5 ethics are following

  1. Ahimsa(non-violence): Ahimsa means non-violence. So it teaches us don’t harm any living creature in the universe.
  2. Satya(truth): Always speak truth.
  3. Astay(non-stealing): Astay is discipline, It prevent us (or feeling ) to get anything illegally that thing doesn’t belong to us.
  4. Brahmcharya(celibacy): Usually Brahamcharya means to control your sexual fascination. The more control on the senses, make it easier to follow celibacy. The fickleness of the senses is restrain in celibacy. Being alert to your goal and always being a virtuous person helps in the practice of celibacy.
  5. Aparigraha: Non-collection of unnecessary items and unnecessary thoughts i mind, speech and body is called Aparigraha.


Niyam also consist of 5 disciplines. Like Yam, Niyam disciplines also help us to get rid of sorrow and betterment of life. The main difference between Yam and Niyam is: Yum is tells us how to interact with out word while Niyam teaches us how to interact with our selves. Following are the main five disciplines of Niyam:

  1. Shauch( Cleanness): The purification, cleanness of body and mind is called Shauch (defecation). The body is kept clean by bathing, clothes, eating and drinking etc. By knowledge and learning one can purify his/her mind.
  2. Santosh (Satisfaction/contentedness):Santosh is a discipline which teaches us don’t despair  at not getting the results what we have set.  ‘Santosh’ is not desire more than what you have or you get legally. It teaches us to increasing our ability, strength, knowledge and means and making more effort to achieve more needed result. In santosh, It is absolutely necessary that a person has full faith in the justice of God.
  3. Tapa(Tenacity): Tapa refers the state in which to achieve  the goal of life, tapa is called toleration of peace, patience, loss, happiness, sorrow, hunger, thirst, cold-heat, humiliation, etc.
  4. Sawadhyaya( Self-learning process): Complete learning of both physical science and spiritual science is called Swadhyaya. Nothing can accomplish its goal only through physical or mere spiritual learning. Therefore, coordination of both is very important.
  5. Ishwar-Pranidhan (Surrender to Supreme God):The worship of God or special devotion is called Ishvara Pranidhan. Full devotion to God with full faith.

Yoga Asanas

The word Asana is derived from Sanskrit language which has two meanings. The first is the place of sitting the seat, the second means the physical state. When the body, mind and soul become together and stable, the feeling of happiness from it is called asana. Total no. of Asanas are equal to total no. of living being in the universe.

According to Yoga texts there are 84 lakh asanas.  Only 84 asanas are considered main in these. The no. of asanas is different according to the different Yoga texts.

Estimates of the number of Asanas:

  • Gheranda Samhinta – 84 main asans.
  • Guru Gorakhnath ji has described only 2 asanas named Siddhasana and Padmasana in  Goraksha Shataka .
  • 4 asanas have been mentioned in Shiva Samhita has.
  • Svami Svatmarama has described 15 asans in Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
  • Srinivasa has desribed 52 asanas Hatha Ratnavali
  • Joga Pradipika mentioned about 84 asanas.
  • Yogi Ghamande has mentioned about 37 asanas in Yoga Sopana.
  • B. K. S. Iyengar has mentioned about C. 200 asanas in Yoga Dipika.
  • Dharma Mittra has mentioned about 908 asanas in Master Yoga Chart.


The name of  main 84 Yoga Asanas:


1.Adho Mukha Shvanasana 2. Adho Mukha Vrikshasana 3. Akarna Dhanurasana 4. Anantasana 5. Anjaneyasana 6. Ardha Chandrasana 7. Ashtanga Namaskara 8. Astavakrasana 9. Baddha Konasana (Bhadrasana) 10. Bakasana (Kakasana) 11. Balasana 12. Bhairavasana (Ankushasana) 13. Bharadvajasana 14. Bhekasana 15. Bhujangasana 16. Bhujapidasana 17. Bidalasana (Marjariasana) 18. Caturanga Dandasana 19. Dandasana 20. Dhanurasana 21. Durvasasana 22. Garbha Pindasana 23. Garudasana 24. Gomukhasana 25. Gorakshasana 26. Halasana 27. Hanumanasana 28. Janusirsasana 29. Jathara Parivartanasana 30. Kapotasana 31. Karnapidasana 32. Kaundinyasana 33. Kraunchasana 34. Kukkutasana 35. Kurmasana 36. Lolasana 37. Makarasana 38. Malasana 40. Mandukasana 41. Marichyasana 42. Matsyasana 43. Matsyendrasana 44. Mayurasana 45. Muktasana 46. Natarajasana 47. Navasana (Paripurna Navasana/ Naukasana ) 48. Padmasana 49. Parighasana 50. Parshvakonasana 51. Parshvottanasana 52. Pashasana 53. Paschimottanasana 54. Pincha Mayurasana 55. Prasarita Padottanasana 56. Rajakapotasana 57. Shalabhasana 58. Sarvangasana 59. Samakonasana 60. Shavasana  61. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana 62. Siddhasana (men)/ Siddha Yoni Asana (women) 63. Simhasana 64. Shirshasana/ Kapalasana 65. Sukhasana 66. Supta Padangusthasana 67. Supta Virasana 68. Surya Namaskar 69. Svastikasana 70. Tadasana 71. Tittibhasana 72. Trikonasana, Utthita Trikonasana 73. Trivikramasana 74. Tulasana 75. Upavishta Konasana 76. Urdhva Dhanurasana Chakrasana 77. Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana 78. Ushtrasana 79. Utkatasana 80. Uttanasana 81. Utthita Hastapadangusthasana 82. Utthita Parsvakonasana 83. Vajrasana 84. Vasishtasana .


Some other main important asanas:

  1. Viparita Dandasana 2. Viparita Karani /Uttanapadasana 3. Viparita Virabhadrasana 4. Virabhadrasana( I Virabhadrasana II Virabhadrasana III) 5. Virasana/ Dhyana Virasana 6. Vrikshasana 7. Vrischikasana 8. Yoganidrasana/ Pasini Mudra



Next step in Ashtang Yoga, after stability of asanas(Yoga Postures) to control/regulate the natural movement of breathing is called Pranayama. Pranayama is a conjunction of two words “Pran” and “Ayam”. Pran indicates the “Breath or life” while Ayam means dimension. Ayam(dimension) has two meanings -to control and to expand. Pranayama in Yoga, teaches us to control the pranavayu (breathing process).

Gayatri Mantra considered beej (seed) mantra for Pranyama. Gaytri Mahamantra is as below:

ॐ Bhu: ॐ Bhav: ॐ sva: ॐ Maha:, ॐ  Jana: ॐ Tapa: ॐ  Satyam

ॐ Tatsviturvarnayanam bhargo devasya dhimhi dhiyo yo na prachodayat.
Om Apojyotirsoamritam, Brahma Bhurbhuva: Self.

There are so many types of Pranayama. Below are the 10 main types of Pranayama:

  1. Anuloma- Viloma, it is also called Nadi-shodhan Prnayam.
  2. Kapala-bhati
  3. Bhramri Pranayama.
  4. Bhastrika Pranayama
  5. Ujjayi Pranayama
  6. Surya Bhedana Pranayama
  7. Chandera Bhedana Pranayama
  8. Murcha Pranayama
  9. Kumbhaka Pranayama
  10. Agnisar Kriya

a young girl doing pranayama

Precautions of Pranayama:

  • It is more beneficial to do pranayama on an empty stomach.
  • Kapalbhati and external pranayama should not be done after eating. They should be done at least four to five hours after the meal.
  • In sitting position, our spine bones should be straight in a row.
  • Women should not do pranayam during menstruation or period. Pregnant woman should not do pranayama.
  • Pranayama should not be done for 6 months in case of any kind of operation.
  • If you have high blood pressure or heart disease do not do Kapalbhati fast. Do it slowly.
  • One should not be hasty while doing Pranayama. As far as possible it should be done in a very calm sense.
  • Pranayam shouldn’t be done during ear infections.
  • Pranayama should be done by one who can follow celibacy.

Benefits of Pranayama:

  • It is beneficial for strengthening our heart and lungs.
  • It removes anxiety and stress.
  • Bhramri  Pranayama saves a person from anxiety, anger and excitement. it is very beneficial for hypertension patients.
  • It is helpful in cold, cough, nose and throat diseases.
  • Pranayama strengthens our body’s immune system and helps to keep it disease free.
  • It makes our mind calm, helps in removing stress as well as gives us vital energy. It also removes negative thoughts from mind.



The fifth part of Ashtanga Yoga is Pratyahara. Pratyahara is composed of two words ‘Prati’ means against and ‘Ahar’ means diet or intake. Here diet means not only food, everything that we can intake for example we watch cinemas, good or bad, drinks, eat meat, read adult literature etc. Eye intakes views, tongue tastes, ear intake sound, nose intake smell, and skin intakes touch.

Accroding to Gerahnd Samhita, “Wherever this fickle mind wanders, while trying to return it from there, do it under the control of the soul (this is pratyahar).”

When this tendency of intake is excessive then there is an increase of disorder in this mind. As these pleasures increase, the senses become active and distract the mind. The mind starts to become more anxious and distraught, due to which power is lost.

So, Pranyam is helpful to control this tendency.


Dharna means to hold something completely. In yoga, dharna means to keep the mind fixed on one point, to hold it. It is a belief to keep the mind fixed on one point. The word Dharana is derived from the Sanskrit “Dhrita” metal meaning “foundation, foundation”. Dharana means the foundation of meditation, the foundation of Dhyana (meditation).

Benefits of Dharna:

  • It helps in concentration.
  • The mind remains happy, peaceful, contented.

Dhyana (Meditation):

Dhyana means focus. It means when we are doing anything we need to forget all other things in the world. Dhyan Kriya is the 7th and important part.


Samadhi is the next stage of Dhyana(Meditation) in which external consciousness dissipates. It is considered to be a  state of spiritual life. In spiritual life, ‘Samadhi’ is called that state of meditation when both the meditator and the thing to be meditated merge, become one, there is no difference between them. The seeker attaining the state of samadhi goes beyond the subjects of taste, smell, touch, word, darkness, light, birth, death, form etc. The seeker goes beyond the sensation of heat – cold, hunger – thirst, fame – waste, happiness – sorrow etc. Such a seeker is free from birth and death and attains immortality.



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