Patanjali described eight element of Yoga in Yogasutras. The eight elements of yoga are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Dharna, Dhyan and Samadhi.
It is the first element of astanga yoga. Through the practice of yama one can abstain from things that keep one’s mind involved in the inevitable struggle for survival. According to Patanjali there are five Yama Ahimsa ( Non-violence), Satya (Truthfulness), Asteya (Non-stealing), Brahmacharya and Aparigraha.
Niyamas are related to one’s body and senses. Niyamas are also ethical practices as yamas. There are five niyamas Saucha (Purity), Santosh (Contentment), Tapa (Endurance), Swadhyaya( To study great Vedas, Holy books) and Tshwara Pranidhana ( dedicated to God).
Asana means ‘position or posture of body’. Asana gain so popularity that people thinks that yoga is nothing but asana but they are not aware that asana is a step towards yoga. Asana are performed to keep the body flexible, agile and young. There are various types of asana such as relaxative asana, meditative asana, etc. Each asana have different effects on various organ of body. It can be performed at any age without any problem.
It is the control of the process of breathing means appropriate control over inhalation and exhalation. There are three constituents of pranayama Puraka ( Inhalation), Kumbhaka ( Retaining the breath), and Rechka ( Exhalation). Pranayama helps in regulating the metabolic activities and enhance the functions of heart and lungs.
It is a process of self control in which an individual is able to exercise control over his/her senses. To control the mind and senses is called pratyahara. The practitioner of pratyahara starts feeling extreme pleasure in remembering God.
Dharna is concentration of mind. Dharna is the first step towards samadhi. Dharna is mental exercise which enables a yogi to go ahead towards dhyana and samadhi.
It is the process of complete constancy of mind. Dhyana is a complete concentration of mind over a period of time without any distractions.
The union of individual’s soul with absolute soul is called samdhi. During the stage of dhyana, when the disappearance of self-awareness takes place, the yogi attains the stage of samadhi.