Column: Yogi Ashwani

Engaging the Eight Limbs of Yog

Over the last two decades during my various interactions with students of yog, I have time and again come across the majority as practitioners of only a limb or two limbs of ashtanga yoga, and that also the practice of asanas or pranayams. Not just the students but even the majority of teachers teach only asanas or pranayams and the solution of all the maladies of the modern man are proposed with the help of these two tools. As an example it is widely believed that asanas like mayur and nauka rid the body of stomach ailments and pranayams like the kapalbhati rids you of high blood pressure and hypertension. Nowadays every possible disease is being claimed to cure with these two tools. The above two claims at times are highly detrimental to an individual’s health, as they suddenly pump in excess prana into a cell and suddenly raise its frequency. The system is jerked from one level of consciousness to the next without first being conditioned to absorb the change. The result in most cases is damaging.

The human mind which is conditioned to understand logic and the physical dimension only takes precedence over the deep gyan which has been given by Patanjali as ‘Yogah, chitta vritti nirodhah” i.e. to block the desires of the mind is yog. Patanjali nowhere in the Yogsutras talks about these kind of asanas. He just says “sukhama sthirama asanama” i.e. what is pleasurable and what is still is an asana. He takes the same route that has been taken by the sanatan kriya of using the eight limbs of yog to achieve a higher level of consciousness and after achieving that higher state then from that level to correct the imbalances in the physical and the etheric. Patanjali gradually increases the frequency of prana of a cell which ultimately influences the whole being.

The eight limbs—yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharna, dhyan and samadhi—work in tandem and gently raise the pranic frequency of that one cell which is the basis of the complete human body. As the cell’s frequency is raised gradually, it’s consciousness also rises gradually, and the cumulative effect is the ultimate rise in consciousness of the whole being and it is from this heightened state that a being is able to effect a change in his physical and etheric self. A yogi hence never falls sick as he is beyond the level of consciousness of sickness.

—The writer Yogi Ashwini Ji is the head of Dhyan Foundation, Delhi.
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November 2008

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