The history of Yoga: review of the main stages and tendencies of its development

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lotos-2Yoga: History, Philosophy, Psychology. Part 2

Yoga’s origin and forming Yoga philosophy

 Yoga goes back to the limits of the furthest historical retrospective view which is acceptable to the modern researcher. Since the most ancient times, there appeared some literature sources in the Indo-Arian civilization, both of epic and religious character, in which Yoga and the description of Yoga self-development methods are mentioned.

 Generally speaking, within the visually graspable history it is possible to distinguish 3 main stages in developing Yoga philosophy and practice.

The 1st stage embraces the most ancient and ancient pre-philosophy, philosophy and practice of Yoga. Forming the Vedic literature and ancient Indian epos went on after spreading Yoga schools. This stage was completed approximately at the end of I millennium B.C. by the appearance of the classical Yoga philosophical school – Sankhya-Yoga. The Yoga schools of that stage were geographically localized on the Hindustan peninsula up to the Himalayas crests and some regions of the Central Asia.


The 2nd stage includes the Middle-Aged philosophy and practice of Yoga. It began in approximately I millennium A.D. and was completed at the end of XVIII century. Here it is important to notice that the development of the Eastern cultural space wasn’t synchronized with the development of the Western culture and civilization. Eastern middle ages ended at the edge of XIX century, when in response to the European colonization begins the growth of national self-consciousness and cultural revival of Indian, Chinese and Arab peoples. During that stage geographical spreading of Yoga schools captured India, China, Tibet, Japan, the other regions of the Central, South-Eastern and South-Western Asia, Southern Europe.


The 3rd stage embraces the Yoga philosophy and practice of the New and Newest periods (XIX-XXI centuries). In XVIII-XIX centuries the Western world started intensively getting to know about the Eastern philosophical schools. Yoga’s ideas were studied alongside with the philosophy of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islamic thoughts. In XX century this process got intensified. Parallel to them, the new systems of Yoga philosophy, e.g. the school of Ramakrishna and Integral Yoga of Aurobindo Ghosh. Yoga stopped to be an exclusively Eastern school and spread widely into the West (Europe, America) and Russia.


Let us consider each of the stages in more detail.


Yoga ideas and methods have existed in India since ancient times, according to the traditional historical estimates VI-III centuries B.C. Some aspects of Yoga can be found in the earliest texts of Indian and world culture – in Vedas. For example, “Rig-Veda” mentioned the technique of contemplating the divine light, special trance states and ecstasy. “Atharva-Veda” points out, that with the help of ascetic practice it is possible to develop “supernatural abilities”.


Yoga elements (contemplation, inner concentration, asceticism, controlling consciousness,etc) as well as the term Yoga itself were present in the texts of the early Upanishads – ‘Taittiriya’ and ‘Katha’.


We should notice particularly that in the ancient Indian epos ‘Mahabharata’ there were both the philosophical ideas of sanhya system and the practical Yoga ideas. The characters of ‘Mahabharata’ used the Yoga methods for developing “supernatural abilities”.


The most well-known part of epos – ‘Bhagavat-Gita’ – is the explanation of the most important principles of spiritual Yoga by Avatara (the earthly embodiment of Vishnu) to the commander Ardjuna; these principles refer to moral, life and death, estrangement from the results of one’s actions, the liberation ways from the power of karma and the ring of sansara.


The idea of eternal life rotation, life origin – be it heat, light and fire or water, or breath-prana leaving a dead body and moving into a newly born baby – encouraged the ancient Indian philosophers to think about the natural rotation of life and death in general and of human in particular. The idea about the separation of spiritual and bodily human elements, especially of a dead man, and about the greater importance of the spiritual elements added to this natural rotation the form of souls transmigration. This started the concept of the endless chain of regenerations.


The essence of this concept is that death isn’t the end and moreover not the achievement of beatitude or relax. It is just a discontinuity, an element of the endless rotation, which is followed (at some time) by a new life, or by a new form which the soul having once left the body will get (or at least a part of the soul). But what specific form will this soul get, and what does it depend on? The answer to this question is given by the karma concept developed in Upanishads.


Karma is one of the cardinal items of the Indian philosophic school the role of which in the history of the whole Indian civilization can be scarcely overestimated. Its essence is that the sum of evil and kind deeds of every person (his karma) defines the form of the following birth. A good karma guarantees the successful birth (you will revive in a new life as Brahman or Knight; everyone will respect and esteem you deservedly). A karma which isn’t very good will give the possibility to revive in the same quality as earlier. A nasty karma will lead to your revival in the new life as a pariah, slave or untouchable Harijan, or just an animal, worm, mosquito or a miserable fly.


The idea of Karma satisfactorily explained and solved the problem of good and evil – everything depended on you yourself. All notions about social injustice, property inequality and its social and economic reasons were laid aside as insignificant. All that had no relation to the main thought: the reason of your sufferings is in your today’s birth – you yourself, or more precisely your sins in your past, your Karma. You have got what you deserve. The idea of karma had a large psychological meaning when it became the regulator of individual and social behaviour for dozens of Indians’ generations. From the one hand, it was a powerful stimulus which dictated the observance of high ethic standards, defined the typical of the Indians careful and friendly attitude to nature, to animals, each of which could represent a regenerated person, possibly your beloved dead relative or friend.

On the other hand, it lead people away to its individual corner, encouraged them to selfish desire for improving their karma, made the deprived and unhappy people reject expressing their displeasure – it’s your guilt! It is typical that in contrast to China, where the society were shaken from time to time by enormous peasant revolts having the purpose to restore the defied social justice, India almost didn’t know such movements.


Not the social justice – this problem wasn’t practically acute over the long period of Indian history – but the individual rescue, liberation, change of your fate individually was always the centre of attention in Indian religious and cultural tradition. The important reason of that is the concept of karma fixed in an Indian’s mind which was first formulated in Upanishads.


All people are subjected to the law of karma, the exceptions are those few who renounced the earthy life, followed the way of hermits, the way of Gods (devayana –unlike pitriyana, the way of ancestors). The latter with the lapse of time ‘tapasa’ were getting the larger divine power and in the end reached Superior Consciousness (Brahman), solved there , without returning to life any longer, escaping from the chain of regenerations, becoming thereby independent from the law of karma.


“You have heard a lot of arguments of mind:

Attend everything that the light Yoga teaches.

If you are ready to abide its laws,

You will break the fetters of punishment – karma…

So, you should wish no fruit but actions,

And stop trying to possess the fruit.

Don’t aim at the fruit, their delight isn’t needed,

However, you shouldn’t be inactive either.

Forget happiness and unhappiness, earthy cares,

Stay in balance – in Yoga.

All the matters are nothing in the face of Yoga, as they are false,

And people who wish success are paltry.

Deny all the sins and merits at once:

Those who come to Yoga will perceive Superior Consciousness”.



The above extract from “Bhagavat-Gita” proves that its creator knew and appreciated Yoga.


The modern additions devoted to Yoga sometimes say that the Indian thinker Patandjali is the founder of Yoga, though this name is connected with a new period of developing yoga thoughts rather than its foundation. Having systemized and summarized the technique of Yoga and philosophy of sanhya, Patandjali became the reformer of spiritual and psychophysical self-perfection methods. This was fixed in his ‘Yoga-Sutra”.


The period of Patandjali’s life is defined as from VII to IV century B.C. The Indian cultural tradition defines it behind the historic edge of new era, i.e. before I century A.D., identifying the philosopher-Yogi Patandjali with the ancient linguist also known as Patandjali (II cent. B.C.).


In favor of the earlier period of Patandjali’s life says the similarity of the Buddha psychic technique of spiritual self-perfection (the Eightfold Path of deliverance from sufferings) with the practical system of classical Yoga (“Eight auxiliary means of Yoga”).


Ancient documents and historical evidences prove that Gautama Buddha knew and practiced Yoga methods as well as used its ideas and technique in his theory of deliverance from sufferings. Supposedly, he studied namely the classical Sanhya-Yoga or its variation. In this case it is quite possible that Patandjali could live earlier than V century B.C., i.e. before Gautama Buddha’s life.


Patandjali’ “Yoga-Sutra”: a short aphoristic work


“Yoga-Sutra” is the most ancient authorized and universally recognized Yoga textbook. It comprises the systematization of Yoga methods and psychic techniques carried out on the basis of philosophical metaphysics of Sankhya-darshana. The other important theoretic source of Sankhya-Yoga is the commentary of Vyasa, the middle-aged Indian philosopher, to Patandjali’s “Yoga-Sutra” which is known as “Yoga-bhashya” (or “Vyasa-bhashya”).

Some ages later the Indian philosopher Vachaspati Mishra (IX cent.) created a fundamental commentary (glossary) for Vyasa’s paper called ‘Tattva-vaishradi”.

Then other philosophic treatises appeared where the ideas of classical Yoga were reflected. These are Bhodja’s ‘Yoga-manibraha’, Vidgnyanabhikshu’s ‘Yogavarttika’ and ‘Yoga-sara-sabgraha’.

They were the texts of some later Upanishads – ‘Maitri’, ‘Shandilya’, ‘Yogatattva’, ‘Dhyanabindu’, ‘Hansa’, ‘Varaha’, ‘Nanabindu’.

Forming the philosophical school of classical Yoga (Sankhya-Yoga) completes the first stage of developing Yoga theory and practice – the ancient one. Its summation comprised systematizing Yoga methods and techniques, fixing its philosophic basis, separating Yoga into a specific religious philosophic direction among other trends (darshan) of the orthodox and non-orthodox Indian philosophy, as well as strengthening the influence upon these trends.


The further Yoga development within the second – middle-aged – stage was going on along three main lines.


1)      Developing classical Indian Sankhya-Yoga and close to it modifications of Yoga theory and practice.

2)      Developing the practical Yoga elements in other schools of Indian philosophy, spiritual practice of which was based on Yoga methods. Here the main role belonged to Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

3)      Yoga penetrating into other geographic regions, national, religious and philosophic schools. Modification and developing Yoga classical elements in these schools. Here the most significant were Chinese Buddhism and Taoism, Tibet Buddhism of Mahayama, Japanese Zen-Buddhism, Islam Sufism, Christian Hesychasm.


In the stream of classical Indian Yoga, its various modifications and variations were gradually taking shape. The main ones were rajah-yoga, bhakti-yoga, djnani-yoga, karma-yoga. They are different in the methods of yoga practice.


Rajah-Yoga (it corresponds to the principles of Patandjali’s Yoga system) accentuates upon the discipline of body, senses and consciousness.


Bhakti-Yoga (its original elements were defined in ‘Bhagavat-Gita”) accentuates the spiritual emotional impuls towards Superior Origin, enstrangement from the fruit of one’s actions and dedicating them to one’ spiritual Ideal.


Djnani-Yoga rests on the cognition of true reality and offers spiritual wisdom as the means of liberation (the ideas of Djnani-Yoga are present in Sankhya system and Shankara philosophy).


Karma-Yoga denotes activity and labour as the methods of getting rid of the Karma dependence and achieving liberation.


Some other Yoga modifications are also known. Mantra-Yoga uses (as the main methods) pronouncing sacral sounds and phrases. Yantra-Yoga concentrates on graphical depictions symbolizing the aspects of the Universe, Divine beings or energy centers of a person (chakras). The most popular nowadays is Hatha-Yoga.


Let us consider it in more details.


The direct translation of the word ‘hatha’ from Sanskrit is ‘force, power; effort, stress; violence, enforcement, necessity’.

Hatha-Yoga is special training a physical body having a number of significant distinctions from Western training methods being intended for health improvement, supporting the good way one feels or good results in various sports.

Hatha-Yoga is aimed first of all at the development of the central and periphery nervous systems and building perfect endocrine system. The training methods of Hatha-Yoga have been developed for thousands of years specially to create a body intended particularly for embodiment of complex consciousness in it.

By body perfection is meant not only the high level of training the locomotor apparatus but also the harmonic development of all organs and systems. All biological functions of a perfect body must be controlled by the highly developed mind which is the function of brain. Brain doesn’t only control the work of all organs and systems. Its developing has the critical meaning for developing consciousness.

The foundation of Hatha-Yoga technological algorithm is the system of physical exercises consisting of the elements named asanas. The word ‘asana’ is translated from Sanskrit as ‘pose, body location, form’. Each asana is a specific gymnastics exercise which, being carried out correctly, makes harmonic training of the tissues and internal organs.

The peculiarity of asanas separating them from other types of physical exercises lies in the fact that not only carrying them out doesn’t result in energy consumption but due to specific mechanisms makes the body store energy in huge quantity. Besides, due to the certain pattern showing the distribution of stretching, compressing, contracting and twisting tissues, each asana impacts specifically on the distribution of potentials and currents in the peripheral nervous system and the spine and develops the components of endocrine system. And this in turn greatly influences the processes happening in brain.

A particular system of tendon-muscle bundles which is intrinsic for the asana practice stimulates the growth of nerve fibers and complicating the organizing structure of nervous system. Respectively, the system of tissue innervation gets more complicated. The consequence is forming more complicated links between the periphery and centre. As a result, it becomes possible to realize the higher-order functions in the body. The necessity to control these functions leads to perfect work of brain.

The multi-aged experience enabled the Hatha-Yoga practitioners to perfect the asana system in such a way that it turned into a unique set of means for optimizing the functional states of any organs and systems by the natural optimization of the processes controlling their work.

       Hatha-Yoga considers the human’s physical body as more than just a combination of  organic tissues and that in addition to the organic body a human has an ‘energy body’.


The human body is an energy structure consisting of an organic body and capsules as if ‘mounted’ on it – ‘thin’ components of the energy body. These capsules are called ‘koshes’ in Sanskrit (it means ‘cocoon’).


In “Hatha-Yoga” there is a whole class of methods specially designed for controlling the energy distribution in the nervous system and in the “kosh’ system. The methods of this type are based on controlling the breath and are called ‘pranayama’ – ‘the art of controlling the Power’. “Prana” is power, energy; ‘yama’ is control, managing’. In the Yoga training, carrying out the gymnastics exercises – asanas – are sure to combine with the practice of controlling the breath – the breath exercises of pranayama.

The main condition for Hatha-Yoga practice is the perfect physical health. In case of necessity during the initial stage, the techniques of Yoga-therapy are used for the body preparation. They consist of the sets of simplified asanas and special purifying and hygienic procedures. As soon as the therapeutic necessity of these procedures is exhausted, their usage is stopped.

The accents in teaching Hatha-Yoga are different in the West and in the East. In the West, Hatha-Yoga is understood and taught as the system of training the healthy body and healthy psychics with the help of exercises, purifying procedures, relaxation, psychotherapy, way of life and food. It differs from the ordinary physical training and recovering gymnastics by the oriental coloration which is displayed in the terminology of exercises, the teacher’s image, environment of the place, the oriental relaxing music accompanying the practice.

At the Western approach, Hatha-Yoga considers the following aspects: which regimen the person should observe, how to eat, to work and to rest. It also allows to train and to harden the organism in order to prevent various diseases (and assist to cure sicknesses with simple methods and in the shortest terms).

With this approach Hatha-Yoga is able to achieve the following positive effects:

1)      Absolutely perfect health – absence of sicknesses.

2)      Harmonic development of the organism: body, mind, psychics.

3)      Controlling all the systems of organism and all the organs of the body (the whole control over the body).

4)      Making the organism younger.

5)      Moral and psychic calming and quieting the nervous system.

6)      Making-up larger will and confidence (training the every-day overcome of hardships).

7)      High vitality, good spirits, workability.

8)      Good mood, cheerfulness.

At this approach to Hatha-Yoga, among the moral and ethic principles self-discipline, systematicness, moderation in everything are recommended.

The Western approach focuses upon strengthening the physical body and growth of confidence by means of acquiring the new training possibilities of one’s organism as well as lowering psychic stress caused by social and behavior standards of the Western world-view. At the Western approach to teaching Hatha-Yoga, it doesn’t allow to consider it as an independent Yoga system all true variations of which are addressed to the work with consciousness and which have, as the final aim, the liberation from the power of matter and merging with the Absolute. The Western teaching approach can be called ‘a physical-culture one’ in terms of its aims: health, positive spirits and soul calmness coming during the systematic practice.

The modern Indian professional specialists take rather a skeptical view of the Hatha-Yoga which has spread nowadays in Europe and America. They say: it is certainly useful for health; however, it is far from the classical one, but something else…


The Eastern approach to teaching Hatha-Yoga is directed to the perfection of body and consciousness which help the practicing Yogi to move along the Way of comprehension.

In Sivaist, Buddhist and Taoist traditions, the Hatha-Yoga techniques are still considered to be the highest-level practices and are kept in strict secret.

For example, in the mountain monasteries of Nepal, as a rule, only the abbot and one or two high-level lamas possess the secrets of Hatha-Yoga practice. Ordinary monks and lower-level lamas sometimes don’t even guess about the existence of these techniques in the tradition.

In Shaolin monastery, China, the Hatha-Yoga techniques are considered to be the practices of arhats – the great masters with the highest level of initiation.

In India, Thailand, Vietnam and other South-Eastern Asian states, it was Hatha-Yoga that was used at the ancient time as one of the highest stages in the technique of physical and energy preparation for training selected warriors-magicians, their participation in the battles being often the decisive factor.

These warriors could not only modulate the psychic spirit both of their own and enemy soldiers, but they possessed a particular war art: by means of will manipulation with the intention, they could create such situations which resulted in an unexpected concurrence of quite unpredictable and fatal for enemy circumstances

In ancient and middle ages, on the territory of modern India there were a number of separate states the rulers of which – rajas – were at constant wars with each other. And each respected raja had, along with the special rooms for studying war arts and fighting, without fail aYoga-shala – a specially equipped room for studying Hatha-Yoga.

In the Yoga-shala, under the direction of an experienced master the future Hatha-Yoga masters-teachers and the professional warriors-archers and warriors-fighters studied the wonderful art of Yoga gymnastics. The court Hatha-Yoga master was usually the keeper of the secret knowledge line. In the official scientific hierarchy of that time, hr had the degree equal to the professor degree in the European university tradition, and was one of the most respected persons at the court as well as the tutor both of the raja himself and the members of his family.

The Hatha-Yoga master was considered to possess some special deep knowledge of the Universe structure which was unacceptable for a human “who didn’t harden his body and didn’t pass through the crucible of Hatha-Yoga”. It was unacceptable for just biological reasons as an ordinary human doesn’t have the formed organs of comprehension and the consciousness features which are necessary for getting and processing the information on the basis of which this knowledge can be developed.

The tradition of the court Yogi-masters has been kept until now. The outstanding Yogi, Professor Shri Krishnamacharya, was the keeper of Yoga-shala at Maisor raja’s court, and the founder and tutor of Vishvayatan-Yogashram, the great Yoga-master and teacher Dhirendra Brahmachari, was “ the official court Yoga teacher” of the Gandi family who ruled India until recently.

At the Eastern teaching approach, Hatha-Yoga methods are based on Chapter 2 of Patandjali’s “Yoga-sutras”, ‘About methods of realizing yoga’, and Chapter 3 ‘About perfect abilities’ (‘Vibhutipada’).Here eight auxiliary means of the practical Yoga are described which represents (at the Eastern approach) the way of life, a special state of consciousness and practical exercises.

These eight auxiliary means are the following:

1)      Self-control, limiting (yama);

2)      Observing the spiritual rules (niyama);

3)      Yoga poses (asanas);

4)      Regulating the breath (pranayama);

5)      Deflecting the organs of senses from outside objects (pratyahara);

6)      Focusing attention and concentration (dharana);

7)      Contemplation (dhyana);

8)      Focusing (Samadhi).


The practice of Hatha-Yoga techniques becomes the means of achieving the Yoga state only in case of fulfilling a number of conditions defining the way of life of the practicing person. Without fulfilling these conditions at the consciousness transition to the higher level of functioning, the person’s body is being broken because of the extra intensiveness of the transition processes.

The conditions above are a correct diet, physical and psychic health, psychic and energy irreproachability.

With the sufficiently intensive and correct practice of technical methods, the way of life itself begins to correspond to the necessary conditions. In due course of time, the practitioner starts feeling how healthy or harmful for him some food is.

Food should be simple and not abundant, fresh and possibly maximum natural. It is preferable to avoid long and multiple cooking operations. The simpler they are, the better. But simplicity doesn’t always mean primitiveness: eating indigestible food isn’t the Yoga way of acting.

Besides, it is also reasonable to avoid various excesses: too salty, too sour or spicy, too hot or cold, etc. food is unsuitable for those who practices Hatha-Yoga. It is also recommended to avoid food which has turned cold or warmed-up, spoiled, dried, rotten or simply not very fresh as it’s unhealthy.

Hatha-Yogis don’t use stimulators, psychotropic substances, tobacco and alcohol.

The optimal choice of food is provided by the correct and sufficiently intensive training practice. The body itself will prompt the practitioner what, when and how it is reasonable to eat. The attentive and abstract attitude to the factual senses will help to find the solution better.

The quantity of food must be such that about an hour after eating one doesn’t feel any hardness which could prevent from training in full strength.

For quick and complete food digestion, it is necessary to pay attention to thorough chewing.

It is unreasonable to limit oneself by some diet concepts formulated by somebody, somewhere and in unknown conditions. The same refers to the eating schedule.

The only meaningful thing is the maximum possible level of consciousness at any moment of life. Measure is the most important. Excess and lack are equally injurious.


Raising the level of training, saturating the energetic structure with energy, its tuning and functional optimization lead the body to the healthy state, and everything that doesn’t correspond to the principles of psychic and energetic perfection becomes uninteresting.

The basic principles of the perfection are represented by five principles yama (five limitations) and by five principles niyama (five rules).


     Five yama limitations are:

1)      ahimsa – refusal from violation referring to anybody or anything, including to oneself and to the natural order in the world;

2)      satya – refusal from lie, and first of all from self-deception;

3)      asteya – refusal from eagerness of possessing what isn’t ours;

4)      brahmacharya – restraint, refusal from indulging one’ own passions, wishes and weaknesses, that is refusal from everything one can get rid of on the way of developing consciousness, from any actions which result in energy consumption unjustified from the point of view of broadening perception.

5)      aparigraha – refusal from accepting gifts and benefactions of any kind, complete self-sufficiency, readiness to rely only upon one’s own forces.


Five niyama rules are:

1)      shaucha – observing purity in all its forms on all the levels of body and psychics;

2)      santosha – calmness and accepting everything as it is;

3)      tapas – constant hard training;

4)      svadhya – stable eagerness to raise the level of consciousness;

5)      ishvara-pranidhara – humility and accepting the true hierarchic structure of the World in which Spirit dominates.

The five yama principles and five niyama rules appeared in Yoga not only to observe self-discipline at the ascetic way of life which are recommended for Yogi by authoritative texts.

Yama and niyama controlled the beginner-practitioner in order to find out paranormal abilities which the Yogi got spontaneously or in the process of psychic-energetic exercises. You should agree that the ability to move objects by force of thought, to transfer one’s consciousness to another body, to manage the natural phenomena and the behavior of living beings (all that is enumerated by Patandjali in his paper as the manifestation of certain phenomena created by Yoga practice) could threaten not only to the life of the lower classes of Indian society, but also to the authorities whose interests are always served by the dominating religion.

When in middle-aged India there appeared a lot of religions, the yama-principles and niyama-rules were sometimes changed into the commandments of the confession the Yogi beginner belonged to. If his skills could be useful to the local raja, he was taken to serve or they tried to make him safe up to his amortization. Therefore, the practical methods surely leading to the appearance of super-abilities were passed on with great conspiracy and strict check of the pupil’s loyality to the Teacher or the secret society. This practice is also acting nowadays.

So far the ritual attributes of monks-shivaits wandering on the roads of South-Eastern Asia have still been a trident and a sword. A trident is the symbol and weapon of Shiva who is traditionally considered to be the keeper and patron of Hatha-Yoga.

In the ritual set of attributes sadhu (the wandering monks are called so in India), a sword is a real battle unit of cold arms. In fact, long ago the whole clans of wandering monks were the clans of professional soldiers who comprised the hired arms during feudal wars. Only in late VIII to early XIX centuries, the English colonizers managed to pacify them somehow and turn them into peaceful wanderers-monks.

Rather interesting is another fact. It turns out that Hatha-Yoga, as a component part of training selected soldiers, isn’t forgot by competent specialists about, though among esoteric romanticists in the West it is customary to assume that Yoga and war art have never had any point of intersection. Nowadays in India there are teaching and training Yoga courses which are the constituents of the obligatory program for preparing the officers and soldiers of special-purpose divisions of Indian National Security Service, police and army.

It turns out that this sphere uses a team of perfectly trained competent specialists. According to specialists’ estimates, using Hatha-Yoga in the training program for the special-purpose division enables to five-fold reduce the time necessary for the special psychic training. It’s quite natural that such information is not made widely known.


Yama and niyama, as it was written in the classical texts, “are limited by time, place and circumstances”. They appeared in the ancient caste society, and what is ahimsa (non-violence) for a Brahman (priest) is not ahimsa for a kshatry (warrior). Let’s see an example illustrating this idea from “Bhagavat-Gita” in which the question about the moral admissibility of killing human beings (it should be stressed – human, not animals) is answered rather peculiarly.

When Ardjuna tells Krishna that he can’t start killing his relatives and friends, Krishna makes him calm saying that it’s natural for a warrior to keep order in the World. If he carries out his military duty, quickly and without reproach, all the killed people will quickly reach good regenerations and the order set in the World will not suffer. Otherwise, Ardjuna born by kshatry and having to protect justice will not carry out his mission, worsen his karma and shaken the basics of reality. Krishna persuades Ardjuna and the latter (inspirited by God’s words) kills his relatives and ex-comrades in cold blood and calmness in his soul.


The basis of yama and niyama is adduction the human consciousness into the state of matching with oneself and the moral-ethic faiths which the person got in childhood because a child receives these faiths before the age of 4 years old, whereas after that a person looks for such forms of religion or world outlook which are matching his faiths assimilated in childhood sub-consciously. The practice of Yoga exercises in the state of displeasure and inner conflict can not only result in a serious injury but also sharpen the life situation causing the practitioner’s negative feelings.

It happens because the energy generated by the practitioner’s energy system is directed to the embodiment of the dominating feeling or thinking image, being present in the Yogi’s consciousness during practicing, into material reality. Matching with the moral, ethic and spiritual ideals chosen for oneself, tuning to the image of chosen God, the founder of Yoga school or Teacher who achieved the highest spiritual Realization guarantee peaceful and gracious mood and, after doing the exercises, harmonic surrounding and problem-free concurrence of circumstances.

This effect can be also explained from the physiological view. In the course of doing Hatha-Yoga poses, hormone substances are injected into the practitioner’s blood causing the experience of unusual states. If the original psychic background is smooth and harmonic, these feelings are pleasant: the unexpected growth of life forces, overfilling with love to everything around, unusual creative rise and unexpected insights.

All this is supported by the body movements and fixed by the muscle memory. After the exercises, while simply doing usual physical and everyday actions, the Yogi is translating harmony and peacefulness into the environment by each of his cells. In case of inability to get rid of the cares suppressing him at the beginning of practice, the Yogi can be carried away by the process of doing exercises, now and then returning to the unpleasant feelings in the course of practicing.

The hormones are also injected into blood but not always cause the effect of emotional anaesthesia; the mood can sometimes get worse. And after doing exercises, the muscle memory won’t translate negative into the material reality incarnating in this way the negative (possibly the worst) version of developing events into objective reality, and the pcychic state can get some painful forms.


Therefore, before getting to practice, the Yogi carries out some ritual actions varying in different schools. For instance, washing, pray, burning the ritual fire, candles or aroma sticks. As a result, the emotional stress or suppression, or worry and waiting for an accident usually disappear. The Yogi gets well and comfortable. He comes into peace with himself in order to start practicing. The first thing he begins with is the practice of asanas which is accompanied with the controlling the breathing cycle (the version of pranayama – the technique using the breathing organs).

The practice of Yoga poses (asanas) and special breathing exercises (pranayamas) result in raising the energy concentration in the organic and energetic bodies. It influences the consciousness direction of the practitioner at the Eastern approach to Hatha-Yoga.

The ordinary person’s attention, which in a usual state is directed outside, is reoriented and concentrated on the inner senses. Perception is ‘pushed inside’. Attention is directed to the state of ‘inner sense space’. At the sufficiently intensive practice, such a high degree of ‘pushing perception inside’ is achieved that attention is turned off completely from the outer objects. Such a state is called ‘pratyahara’ which is translated from Sanskrit as ‘folding, compression, shrinking’.

Shrinking attention inside leads to the extreme attention concentration on the state of inner ‘psycho-energetic space’. It is called ‘focusing’ or ‘concentrating’ attention – dharana. This word is translated from Sanskrit as ‘fixing’, ‘keeping’.

Deepening the stable concentration on inner psycho-energetic space results in the comprehension of the links between the Inside and the Outside because the Inside is only the area of infinity limited by imperfect perception.

The sphere of perception is getting wider embracing infinity; attention is watching the interconnections and relations between spaces of different organizing levels. This state is named ‘contemplation’ – dhyana. In Sanskrit it is just ‘contemplation’.

As a result of the contemplation, there appears the factual perception of integrity and unity of the organic body and the system ‘kosh’ as the single structure which isn’t divided into ‘inside’ and outside’, ‘rough’ and ‘soft’, ‘limited’ and ‘finite’.

The human’s self-consciousness becomes the self-consciousness of a single and integral infinite being that isn’t limited by the special borders of an organic body and temporal borders of a human life. This state is called ‘samadhi’ translated from Sanskrit as ‘connection’ (with the object of concentration).

In the Samadhi state the human comprehends the arrangement of his energetic structure and its interrelation with the energetic structures of other creatures. Finally, he acquires the complete control over all the components of his essence and can control the functions of the energetic structures levels from the highest acceptable level of self-consciousness.

As we can see, achieving the superior Yoga purposes is possible by means of Hatha-Yoga at the Eastern approach to teaching. It allows to consider Hatha-Yoga at the Eastern approach of teaching as an independent Yoga system all versions of which are addressed to the work with consciousness and have much higher spiritual purposes than training the physical body and restoring the psychic sphere after stressful overstrains. The Eastern approach to teaching Hatha-Yoga can be called ‘deepening’.

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