WHAT IS YOGA?
Yoga comes from sanskrit word 'yuj' which means 'integrating', 'coordination' and 'work'. In full definition, yoga means 'union', a state of union of mind and body with the divine as oneself. Yoga is not a religion. It is of a spiritual practice to find our inner awareness and true nature of ourselves. Yoga is not always known as a physical practice (asana), this type of practice is called Hatha Yoga. Other practices of yoga also includes breathing technique (pranayama), ritual chanting and mantra, and meditation. There are also different path of yoga other than Hatha. Jnana Yoga is a study of oneself and finding the true wisdom through self-realization. Bhakti Yoga is a devoting practice to deepen the awareness of oneself to cultivate faith and love to the Divine. This type of yoga is found in devotional prayers, chanting and mantras. Karma Yoga is a practice of service or action of oneself, usually a selfless action. Raja Yoga is the combination of Jnana, Bhakti, and Karma altogether. Hatha Yoga is the physical practice of yoga, through the combination of pranayama, asana, and meditation. With different types of yoga, each goals is basically the same which is finding the realization of oneself through awareness of mind and body.
YOGA SUTRA AND PATANJALI
Patanjali was an ancient yogi who wrote the philosophy codes of yoga which was found in Yoga Sutras. In his writings of Yoga Sutras, he compiled the tradition and practice of yoga. The Yoga Sutra itself is the portrayal of Raja Yoga as the combinations of all path of yoga. Although most of his writings does not mention a lot about asana, there is a quote that is quite popular in the application of Asana:
'yogas chitta vritti nirodhahah' (Sutra 1.2)
which means 'yoga consciousness is stilling the wave of thoughts and mind.' The application of this quote to asana, is by settling the mind as you hold in a pose without letting the mind overcome your consciousness. Other popular quote in the Sutras, explains about the 8 limbs of yoga as the fundamentals of traditional yoga practice:
'yama-niyama-asana-pranayama-pratyahara-dharana-dhyana- samdhyo asta-angani' (Sutra 2.29)
which means 'the eight limbs of yoga are abstention from evil acts (Yama), disciplinary rules (Niyama), postures (Asana), breath control (Pranayama), withdrawal of senses from objects (Pratyahara), concentration (Dharana), meditation (Dhyana), eternal union (Samadhi). This part of sutra explain on applying these fundamentals in every yoga practice.
Yoga Sutras is not only codified the traditions of yoga, but also teaches us on how to deepen our self-practice using the philosophy of Patanjali. Through his observations, Patanjali has succeeded to cultivate his mind and body experience and applied it to his philosophy in the Yoga Sutras. Obviously, all his experiences are the essence of his practice of yoga. Using Patanjali Yoga Sutra, as a student and a self, we are free to interpret the essence of Yoga Sutra through our yoga practice.
'Ataha yoganushasanam' (Sutra 1.1)
'Now the discipline of Yoga'