The first steps towards Yoga state

This book is inspired by the authentic writings of timeless yogic treasures and serves two purposes: firstly, to help you begin your yoga journey and to aid your advancement in its practice by applying the fundamental principles of yogic thought; and secondly, to stand as a testament to the purity inherent in the path of yoga.

This book is divided into two parts. The first part presents a vision of the spiritual journey through four Vedic concepts of human life, known as the four dharmas or purusharthas. These are Dharma, (the duty and vocation of a human being) Artha (fulfilment of vocation), Kama (fulfilment of heart’s desires) and Moksha (spiritual awakening and Liberation), which help us to achieve our inner divine purpose. In this part I give a practical yogic path to follow for the realization of these visions of life.

The second part presents the fundamentals of Yama and Niyama, the pillars of yogic thought. These are 10 principles (5 yamas and 5 niyamas) that form the basis of yoga practice in the vision of several ancient yogic sages and seers, a treasure inherited by birth that helps guide our lives to the highest spiritual fulfillment. Yama focuses on our relationships with others, while niyama guides our soul to a more subtle and elevated realm. By cultivating these attitudes, we can achieve peace of mind and progress in the practice of yoga. Yama and niyama are ideal subjects for meditation and study and are essential for authentic yoga practice. Just as a medical student needs specific training to become a doctor similarly an aspirant to the state of yoga needs this training to become a yogi. 

In the sequel to this book you will receive additional material consisting of the first four Integral Yoga courses of our site. These offer information on how to get more help through yoga and also yogic techniques and insights that can be put into practice immediately after reading.

In what follows, each chapter is prefaced with selected extracts from the book, providing you with insights into the underlying themes of the two sections. Additionally, a brief summary of supplementary through which you can get more help.

Part I: Dharma

Chapter 1: The Spiritual Journey

Since time immemorial, yoga philosophy and practice have guided spiritual seekers towards Enlightenment. Yoga has become part of all cultures, and today people all over the world adopt the practice to maintain physical and spiritual health. The practice of yoga deepens self-awareness and broadens one’s perspective on reality, leading to increased sensitivity, introspection, convergence, mindfulness, kindness and compassion towards others. Analogously the spiritual journey can be seen as an ascent of a pyramid. The sages of ancient India knew that man can ascend this pyramid through merits of kindness to others and fall through undeservedness, causing suffering. The pyramid has a base, we rise gradually, step by step, until we reach the highest point. In the Vedic view the pyramid structure of human life is made up of four aspects called dharmas. These relationships are eternal and have given rise to the concept called purushartha. Literally purushartha means objective. 

Chapter 2: Living Dharmic

The human soul that is born on this earthly plane is housed in the most suitable body that helps it perform its duties on earth. Dharma is the duty and vocation of a human being and can be a combination of actions and things that change during life. By purifying his heart and following the inner guidance, man can identify his true destiny. Dharma refers to the right way of action, the deep understanding of the human being and interaction with life and requires continuous adaptation. People take actions for happiness, but they are driven by the desire to acquire material things and the enjoyment of sensual pleasures, which are temporary and limited due to humanity’s present condition. The Dharma shows us how we can overcome their influences by practising simple principles of action while rebuilding the personality on a higher vibrational level to achieve spiritual enlightenment. 

Chapter 3: Artha, setting goals and benchmarks that drive and ensure inner purpose

This chapter talks about Artha which means goal or objective and refers to obtaining the resources necessary for a dharmic, virtuous life. Dharmic goals are inclusive and caring, while actions contrary to dharma i.e. adharmic actions promote violence, selfishness and division. Artha implies abundance and prosperity, which can be achieved when we stop trying to obtain knowledge and goods for ourselves and by focusing on the divine, higher purpose of our lives. Prosperity must also be offered to the Divine Force for higher causes, not just to promote personal pleasures. Abundance is not just about material goods, but also about healthy relationships, fulfilling careers and a strong community.

Chapter 4: Kama Dharma, Fulfilling Heart's Desires and Finding Happiness in Actions Based on Personal Dharma

Kama Dharma, refers to the Indian notion of pleasure and also to the Hindu god of love. Kama Dharma refers to the pursuit of pleasure, well-being and happiness through vituits and is a path to follow to achieve spiritual fulfilment. Thus, Kama Dharma means the pursuit of happiness through inner fulfilment and not just through the outer pleasures of life. Happiness is everyone’s birthright and it is important to seek it within, where it shines in its true light.

Chapter 5: Moksha Dharma, attaining liberation of consciousness, Eternal and Infinite Divine Bliss

Moksha is a state of spiritual awakening and liberation from this life. Moksha is a concept of life and the afterlife that has deep roots in Hindu tradition. The State of Liberation is always achieved through Divine Grace, which provides eternal life, bliss and freedom from pain. Constant meditation and self-reflection helps to achieve Spiritual Moksha Liberation. The aspirant to the state of yoga must attain knowledge of the Immortal Divine Self Atman aided by a higher concentration of mind and purity of heart. This enables one to control his senses and free himself from the cycle of birth and death. Moksha is union with the Divine, the ultimate goal and destination of human life.

Chapter 6: Karma and Individual Dharma

This chapter focuses on the concept of karma which means action and its relation to dharma (divine duty). Although the West has given a justice interpretation to this concept, karma means action and has consequences, and these consequences are the results of our choices. Karma is not necessarily a form of punishment or reward, but rather a reflection of the consequences of actions taken. It is important to avoid adharmic actions (which are against the good) and cultivate dharmic (virtuous) actions and the principles behind actions through the Karma Yoga system.

Chapter 7: The Source of Eternal Values

In the philosophy of the Indian Samkhya school, the word prakriti is the name given to nature and also to the source of all things in the Universe, the eternal and infinite basis from which all manifestations derive. Prakriti is regarded as the unmanifest or unseen reality from which the three qualities of matter called gunas (Sattva, purity – Rajas action and Tamas – inertia) arise. Man lives with the feeling that nature is outside, but we are nature in every respect, and every fibre of our body is part of it. Its core comprises physical, biological, psychological, intellectual, moral and spiritual laws. Ultimately, it is the law of the Absolute that operates in this Universe, and this law is also called Dharma.

Part II: Fundamentals of Yogic Thinking

Chapter 8: Yama and Niyama

Yama and niyama are the ethical principles that guide yogic practice and are considered essential steps that help strengthen the being and prepare for higher stages of yoga practice. Yama refers to relationships with other people and things, while niyama focuses on the disciplines of the self. The practice of yamas and niyamas brings peace of mind.  In order to penetrate into their true essence and to reap the fruits of yoga practice they need to be studied and reflected in one’s own being.

Chapter 9: Ahimsa, non-violence

Ahimsa is a principle that promotes non-violence in all forms and is considered the central value in yogic philosophy. It is practised in various authentic traditions, including Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism, where it is seen as a moral duty not to harm any living being. Ahimsa is not just a physical action, but an attitude of mind that focuses on the intention behind the actions and the inclusive relationship with others and oneself. By practicing ahimsa, the yogi can live in harmony with others and resolve conflicts peacefully.

Chapter 10: Satya, Truth

Satya is a concept in Vedic philosophy that refers to the Eternal Truth, which lies beyond duality, relative to the absolute truths Atman, Brahman and Purusha in Vedic thought. Satya is often translated as ‘truth’, but this term does not fully describe its meaning. This chapter explores the different aspects of Truth and Life that are considered one and the same. Satya in its aspects is associated with sincerity, honesty and righteousness and is considered a virtue of the Divine. Satya is related to the divine order governing human society and to actions motivated by divine duty (dharma).

Chapter 11: Asteya, non-theft

No one can hide anything from God. Yoga is about finding Truth in its ultimate vastness. The yogi knowing this becomes honest in the face of Truth and not just in the eyes of friends. This chapter brings up stealing and lying as negative forms of action in human life, and how yoga calls us to live with integrity and mutuality. This chapter exposes different forms of theft, including: stealing the right to truth by withholding information in order to keep someone in the dark about something, emotional theft, stealing dignity and respect, stealing time and resources. It also addresses the negative impact of theft on the victim and how to free them. The devout yogi can live without fear and falsehood understanding that the purpose of life is to discover and love God. 

Chapter 12: Brahmacarya, sexual continence

This chapter describes the concept of brahmacharya, a concept that refers to the spiritual practice of controlling the senses, especially through sexual abstinence, but brahmacharya also refers to making love with transfiguration and continence. This is seen as an important step in the spiritual journey, as it allows the sublimation of sexual energy through Hatha Yoga techniques to higher planes of being in order to fulfil spiritual endeavours. In a deeper sense brahmacharya can be understood as ‘stepping into pure consciousness’ or ‘living in Brahman (God) consciousness’. In yogic practice this practice is essential.

Chapter 13: Aparigraha, non-possessiveness

Chapter 13 is dedicated to the concept of aparigraha, which can also be translated as “not taking more than you need”. Aparigraha invites us to practice the Divine Game, to experience complete intimacy, to live in the present moment and to let go. This is how we become more than who we are and also a way to remain free from the enclosure of possessiveness. Yoga helps us to understand that everything in the material world is temporary, impermanent, comes and goes, appears and disappears or decays. At the same time it helps us not to suffer by teaching us not to tie our happiness to the transient nature of things.

Chapter 14: Saucha, the inner and outer purification of the being

Saucha is an invitation to cleanse the body, the mind, the heart, the attitude towards everything and actions. It asks us to cleanse our lives so that we create space and can be more available for the qualities we seek. This precept also invites us to purify the way we relate to what is above the moment. Saucha is also about balance in our relationships with others, with the tasks we have and therefore with ourselves. This chapter deals with purity of thought and its levels. It emphasises that purity of thought is linked to deification and that there are several levels of psychological purity. It is also made clear that each stage of purity can be perceived differently, depending on the perspective from which it is realised or observed, this being a purely personal matter that varies from case to case.

Chapter 15: Santosha, Contentment and Acceptance of Inner Reality and Outer Environment

Santosha is the Sanskrit word for contentment, satisfaction or acceptance. Santosha means “completely satisfied or content with the inner reality and the outer environment”.  Santosha is also an important concept in yoga because it is necessary for inner peace and for the effort to change the future. It is an attitude of gratitude, understanding and acceptance of the inner being, environment and circumstances as they are. Santosha is always the ideal state of a spiritual aspirant who is sincerely on the path of realizing the most sublime state. The practice of contentment can help us turn our attention inward and experience the reality of the Immortal Divine Self Atman.

Chapter 16: Tapas, self-discipline

Since the dawn of creation, in the context of all spiritual life, regardless of tradition, tapas (austerity, self-control, penance) has never been lacking. On the contrary, tapas has been a vital, invigorating factor. It has been and remains one of the indispensable ingredients of an authentic and genuine spiritual life. Tapas is what fosters the yogi’s transformation and is his preparation for greatness, for success in yoga is achieved mainly through tapas and brahmacharya (sexual continence). Thus, through tapas, an attempt is made to set in motion a process of metabolism, through which all habits that create weakness and hinder the awakening of the will can be eliminated from the personality.

Chapter 17: Svadyaya, spiritual study and reading in a transfigured state

Transfigurative study is a quest for self-knowledge that leads and shapes, that asks us to stop the stories we tell ourselves and realize that these stories create the reality of our lives. This principle invites us to free ourselves from the false and limiting perception that the ego imposes and live the Truth of the Divine Self Atman. Svadhyaya is an important spiritual practice in yoga and Indian philosophy. It can be seen as one of the virtuous qualities or as a moral principle governing the life of a yogi. Svadhyaya refers to self-study or self-awareness and involves examining one’s own thoughts, feelings and actions to better understand the motivations and situations of yogic life. This self-awareness can help us align ourselves with our highest purpose and live a more fulfilling and meaningful life thus moving us towards greater understanding and wisdom.

Chapter 18: Ishvara pranidhana, worship of God; directing actions, thoughts, feelings and aspirations towards the Divine

Chapter 18 focuses on worshipping God; directing actions, thoughts, feelings and aspirations towards the Divine. This chapter deals with self-surrender through acceptance of the Divine Will. Through this practice we can draw closer to God and gain a deeper understanding and experience. Ishvara Pranidhana is presented in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (sage of ancient India) as an essential factor and also as a way to overcome the obstacles that prevent us from reaching Divine Ecstasy (Samadhi).  Ishvara Pranidhana is the recommended practice to treat both basic ailments of the mind and the symptoms of these ailments. This practice helps us to remain in a state of peace and stability despite the unpredictability of life because through Ishvara pranidhana, we learn to accept life’s challenges and obstacles with faith and dedication.

Chapter 19: How we can meditate on yama and niyama

This chapter offers a practical way to enter the meditative state through concentration on yama and niyama. Meditation is the universalization of energy, whereas the personal impulses commonly present are pressures that lead to the externalization of energy. Meditation is the process of training the mind to be quiet and focused. As we become more and more still, the mind becomes more and more focused. When the mind is focused, we can begin to see things in a new way. To become a yogi you need this training. The yamas and niyamas which are the first steps on the path of yoga are also essential for the higher practices of concentration, meditation and Divine Samadhi Ecstasy. 

Free supplementary materials

How you can get more help

Course 1

Introduction to Yoga Practice

Yoga is a way to connect with our spiritual essence and improve our quality of life through physical, emotional, mental and spiritual development. Through regular practice of various yogic techniques, we can experience a state of harmony and balance within ourselves and improve our quality of life by developing paranormal powers, mental clarity and calmness, by relaxing the mind, by centering the attention within the being and concentration, by increasing body awareness and reducing stress. Yoga offers a way to achieve self-transcendence and spiritual bliss through the practice of a science that can be understood and practiced by anyone with aspirations to become more than they are, without being limited in their faith or nationality.

Course 2

The Eight Yoga Steps in the Vision of Maharishi Patanjali

The practice of yoga is an ancient method of realizing the Immortal Divine Self Atman. Because the means and the goal of yoga are not separate, yoga practice is similar to its goal in itself; rather, the goal will ultimately be realized as an evolution of the means itself. Sage Patanjali provides a clear path to achieve the ultimate goal of life. Practicing the eight stages of the yoga path described by Patanjali helps us to educate our consciousness and change our behaviour of mind, moving us away from suffering and realising our true nature the Reality of the Immortal Divine Self Atman.

Specific location of the 7 main astral energy centres and Brahmarandra

This topic presents the names and corresponding locations of the seven main centres of astral energy corresponding to the seven main vibrational layers of the Macrocosm and Brahmarandra. Within the energy system, through the practice of yoga, ancient clairvoyant yogis have mainly identified seven focal points or centres where energy tends to concentrate. Being the most important, these seven astral energy centres also called chakras cover the entire spectrum of the human being from the physical to the subtle. The chakras can be likened to seven distinct resonators that are meant to instantly resonate the being (when awakened and consciously controlled) with an infinity of energies of all manifestation in the Universe.

Course 3

Prana, its role and the subtle vayavah breaths

This chapter discusses the concept of ‘prana’ as seen in the works of yoga and traditional Indian medicine Ayurveda. Prana is the Sanskrit word for breath, vital force or life principle. Prana is not just breath, but is an intelligent energy, a subtle principle, which pulsates in the body through subtle bodily channels called nadis. Pranic energy enables the functioning of the physical body, including the processes of breathing, digestion and blood circulation. Prana exists as a universal energy that fills and activates all matter and is also the force that flows and performs vital functions in all forms of life. According to the yoga tradition, the energy system that processes and uses energy works through the five sub-energies called panca vayus, or vayavah.

Koshas, the Subtle Vehicles of the Immortal Divine Self Atman

This topic introduces the subtle bodies of the human being and practical ways of purifying them that can be integrated into everyday life. Koshas are considered the subtle layers or vehicles that surround or clothe the Immortal Divine Self Atman. They are also referred to as ‘sheaths’ or ‘coverings’. There are five of them, co-existing and animated within each other. The physical body is regarded as the outer shell or layer, while the innermost layer contains the body of bliss, or Soul, the spark of the Immortal Divine Self Atman. In the yogic view, the factors influencing the healing of the five sheaths must touch the deeper layers of the being. The search for happiness (ananda) should be based on an inner vision, directed towards knowledge or wisdom, so that in this way we can more easily change the external factors that influence our lives.

A Vision of the Mind and the Power of Thought

Next this topic addresses the concept of mind in Tantra Yoga and offers more than the usual definition of mind as the faculty of thought and emotion. According to the teachings of Tantra Yoga, man has three bodies (physical, astral and causal) but also three associated minds, one for each of the three major dimensions of being. According to the science of yoga, during spiritual growth, man must climb the evolutionary ladder through these dimensions, gradually increasing his awareness of the higher realms. In this way, man can free himself from the limitations of the three bodies and their corresponding minds. The concept of the mind object, how it functions and further methods of controlling, mastering and calming the mind are also presented.

The Healing Power of Prayer

Prin practicarea posturilor corporale (asanas) se intră pe calea unei conștiințe superioare ceea ce facilitează înțelegerea relației noastre cu existența. Practica Hatha Yoga consecventă ajută în depășirea problemelor de sănătate, a durerilor și a depresiei mentale. Prin purificarea corpului și echilibrarea energiilor polar opuse (yin-yang) se ajunge treptat la o stare de concentrare superioară. Acest lucru creează suportul celei mai bune sănătăți fizice și mentale. Asanele și conștientizarea efectelor subtile sunt absolut necesare pentru o stare de bine și pentru sănătate. 

Asanas Body Poses in Hatha Yoga

By practicing body postures (asanas) one enters the path of higher consciousness which facilitates understanding of our relationship with existence. Consistent Hatha Yoga practice helps in overcoming health problems, pain and mental depression. By purifying the body and balancing polar opposite energies (yin-yang), one gradually reaches a state of higher concentration. This creates the support for best physical and mental health. Asanas and awareness of subtle effects are absolutely necessary for well-being and health. 

Chapter 28: Preparing for the Hatha Yoga session

As the title suggests this chapter presents the preparatory techniques for the Hatha Yoga Asana session and the awareness of the subtle effects they imply. Asanas and awareness of subtle effects are absolutely necessary for well-being and health. The ultimate goal of yoga practice, is to help the practitioner achieve liberation (moksha) from suffering in the cycle of death and rebirth. The benefits of Hatha Yoga are enhanced with a slow, gentle and sustained practice. The main objectives of the body postures are to strengthen and balance the body, improve posture itself, increase flexibility, stability, concentration and provide relaxation and well-being.

Elements of Yoga Nidra and the technique of performing it

This chapter focuses on the benefits of Yoga Nidra (yogic mindful sleep) practice for physical and mental health and offers a practical method. This type of yoga induces a state of deep relaxation and can be used as a meditation technique. Yoga Nidra can reduce stress and help prevent illness. Moreover, this practice can free the being from fears, anger and jealousy. Yoga Nidra can improve mental clarity and provide an overall sense of well-being while being an open doorway to the ineffable reality of the Immortal Divine Self Atman.

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