Patanjali’s recommendation of the eightfold steps of yoga ‘Ashtang Yoga ‘ is a perfect remedy to lift man out of the narrow outdated religious practices that promise happiness. All religions are sectarian, divisive and contradict each other in advising the means to achieve happiness. Following  any religion, if not rightly understood ,man falls into an Imprisoning web of malpractices, superstitions and self defeating practices. Religion at best becomes a social and political tool dividing people and disintegrating nations.

Rising above these imprisoning confines is Ashtang yoga, a set of eight practices which transcend institutionalised religion and breathe the fresh air of universal acceptability . Breaking narrow religious norms these endow man with health and peace by connecting him to his own true being. These are : Yam, Niyam, Asana,Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyan, and Samadhi.

1) Yam:  This is listed the first out of the eight, as without this initial step no progress is possible. Yam means controlling your mental and physical passions and appetites. To withdraw from aggressive violent speech and action which hurts others is  a)(ahimsa). To establish oneself in truth b)(Satya), honesty in speech, thoughts , purpose and actions. This includes sweetness of tongue, causing  no hurt or harm. Next is c) (Asteya) non-covetousness  of another’s wealth, house, woman ,land or any belonging, not even in thought , as even that constitutes thieving! Then is Celibacy d)(Brahmacharya), meaning purity of mind and body . Guarding your mind against sensuous, lusty, immoral thoughts and actions. Celibacy also means that no impurities enter the mental zone e.g. anger, greed  or attachment.Cultivate a wise control over such passions.  The last one in this yam section is :e) (Aparigriha) non- hoarding of inessentials and being content and happy with bare minimum requirements.

Prarthna Saran  President Delhi Chinmaya Mission.