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Ashtanga Marga Of Sage Patanjali

The extensive process of controlling the senses and the mind suggested by Sage Patanjali is called the Ashtanga Marga, the eightfold path, a psychosomatic spiritual discipline. This eightfold discipline for the aspirant has:

  1. yama, restraint;
  2. niyama, culture;
  3. asana, posture;
  4. pranayama, breath control;
  5. pratyahara, withdrawal of the senses;
  6. dharana, fixed attention;
  7. dhyana, meditation;
  8. samadhi, perfect concentration.

The first two are ethical practices, the next two are physical practices meant for quietening the body, the third pair are mental practices for withdrawing the mind from the external world of senses and turning it inward, and finally the last pair are supra-sensory practices, bring about an unbroken and uninterrupted flow of concentration.

The first five disciplines are regarded as bahiranga-sadhana, external practices and the last three disciplines are called antaranga-sadhana, internal practice.

Upon successful completion of the first five steps in ethical and physical practices, the mind is cleared of both the external and internal desires and prejudices, it becomes free of the ideas of doer-ship and enjoyer-ship.