Yoga is not limited to the physical postures, breathing techniques or meditation only rather yoga is also a way of life. The widely practiced Yoga sadhanas are: Yama, Niyama, Āsana, Prāṇāyāma, Pratyāhāra, Dhāraṇā, Dhyāna, Samādhi, Bandhās and Mudrās, Ṣaṭkarmas,Yuktāhāra, Mantra-japa,Yukta-karma etc.
Yamas & Niyamas
Yamas are restraints and Niyamas are observances. These are considered to be pre-requisites for further Yoga practice.
Āsanas, involve adopting various psychophysical body patterns and give one an ability to maintain a body position (a stable awareness of one’s structural existence) for a considerable length of time. Practising of Asanas makes one capable of bringing about stability of body and mind.
Prānāyāma consists of developing awareness of one’s breathing followed by willful regulation of respiration as the functional or vital basis of one’s existence. It helps in developing awareness of one’s mind and helps to establish control over the mind. In the initial stages, this is done by developing awareness of the “flow of in-breath and out-breath” (śvāsa-praśvāsa) through nostrils, mouth and other body openings, its internal and external pathways and destinations. Later, this phenomenon is modified, through regulated, controlled and monitored inhalation (śvāsa) leading to the awareness of the body space getting filled (pūraka), the space(s) remaining in a filled state (kumbhaka), and it getting emptied (recaka) during regulated, controlled and monitored exhalation(praśvāsa).
Pratyāhāra indicates dissociation of one’s consciousness (withdrawal) from the sense organs which connect with the external objects. Dhāranā indicates broad based field of attention (inside the body and mind) which is usually understood as concentration. Dhyāna (meditation) is contemplation (focused attention inside the body and mind) and Samādhi (being constant).
Bandhas and Mūdras
Bandhas and Mūdras are practices associated with Prāṇāyāma. They are viewed as the higher yogic practices that mainly adopt certain physical gestures along with control over respiration. This further facilitates control over mind and paves the way for a higher Yogic attainment. However, practice of dhyāna, which moves one towards self-realisation and leads one to transcendence, is considered the essence of Yoga Sādhana.
Ṣaṭkarmas are detoxification procedures that are clinical in nature and help to remove the toxins accumulated in the body.
Yuktāhāra advocates appropriate food and food habits for healthy living.
Yukta-karma advocates right karmas or actions for a healthy living.
Japa is the meditative repetitions of a mantra or a divine consciousness. Mantra Japa produce positive mental tracts, helping us to gradually overcome stress.