Before starting for the yoga sessions it is important to understand the philosophy of yoga & its various spiritual dimensions. The Yoga Sūtras were written by Sage Patanjali. There are 196 yoga sutras. The Yoga Sutras were compiled around 400 CE by Sage Patanjali, taking materials about yoga from older traditions.
What is Yoga?
This is a basic and fundamental question about Yoga. What actually meaning of the Yoga? Is it just a form of exercise composed of Asanas or something else. The answer to this question has been given in this Yoga Sutra of Patanjali.
“Yogash chitta vritti nirodhah ||”
It means Yoga is inhibition (Nirodha)of the mind-field (Chitta) from taking various forms(Vritti)
This is one of the most important Sutras of Patanjali Yoga sutra it is not because it deals with some important principle or technique of practical value but because it defines with the help of only four words the true nature of Yoga. These four words are “Yoga”, “Chitta”, “Vritti“, “Nirodha”
The word Yoga in Sanskrit has a very large number of meanings. It is derived from the root word Yuj which means ‘to join’ and the idea of joining runs through all the meanings. As per the Hindu philosophy, the spiritual composition of the body has two part, one is integral the soul or Jivatama & other part is parmatma. Parmatma is formed from two words, param, meaning “supreme” or “highest”, and ātman, which means individual spirit or soul or self. parmatma is beyond knowledge and ignorance, devoid of all material attributes. In Hindu theology, parmatma is the Absolute Atman or Supreme Soul or Spirit (also known as Supersoul or Oversoul) in the Vedanta and Yoga philosophies of India.
The state of unification of the Jivatama & Parmatma in consciousness, as well as the mental process and discipline through which this union is attained, are both called Yoga.
Now, We have to understand what Chitta is, and what are these Vrttis before understanding What Yoga is? Let us understand with the example. Eyes are our vision instrument but Eyes cannot see if the mind is not connected. So the eyes are only a secondary instrument, not the organ of vision. The organ of vision is in the nerve centre of the brain. The two eyes will not be sufficient alone. Sometimes a man is asleep with his eyes open. The light is there and the picture is there, but a third thing is necessary; the mind must be joined to the organ. The eye is the external instrument, we need also the brain centre and the agency of the mind. First, there is the instrument, then there is the organ, and third, the mind attachment to these two. So, these processes run into our mind. They are but various processes in the mind-stuff called Chitta. The waves of thought in the Chitta are called Vrtti. We can understand the Chitta & Vritta by this simple example suppose we want to see the bottom of the lake but it can only be visible when the water of the lake is steady, but if there ripples on the water it is quite impossible to see. So, the ripples need to be settled down first to see the water bottom. That bottom of the lake is our own true Self; the lake is the Chitta, and the waves are the Vrttis.
The last word to be considered is Nirodha. This word is derived from the word Niruddham which means ‘restrained’, ‘controlled’, ‘inhibited’. All these meanings are applicable in the different stages of Yoga.
So, we can summarise the meaning of Yoga is “Yoga is the control (nirodha, regulation, channelling, mastery, integration, coordination, stilling, quieting, setting aside) of the modifications (gross and subtle thought patterns) of the mind field.” The full significance of the Sutra can be understood only when the subject of Yoga has been studied thoroughly in all its aspects.