The yoga system of Patanjali is a method for the discipline of the body and mind leading up to psychic and spiritual training. Yoga means “to yoke,” and in the sense of Hinduism is the seeking of union with or harnessing oneself to God.
The yoga referred to as one of the six darshanas was founded by Patan-jali in the second century
What is necessary before the highest stages of contemplation are reached?
The body should be fit and healthy. A number of bodily exercises and ways of breathing (especially those involving deep and long breaths) are prescribed as a way to gain control over the body.
The physical body, active will, and observing mind must all be brought under control. Patanjali prescribes practices designed to free the body from its restlessness and impurity. Such practices can strengthen a person's vital power and also prolong youth and span of life. All of this contributes to self-realization and spiritual freedom. Still other practices are prescribed to clarify the mind and bring peace.
Hatha yoga was a technique taught by Patanjali. The goal is to activate the centers of psychic energy. Its main goal is to unite ha (the breath of the sun known as prana) with tha (the breath of the moon, known as apana) utilizing various bodily postures and purification exercises.
The later stages of such yoga are supposed to lead to some insight or even a condition of mystical ecstasy, but it must be stressed that Patan-jali is not interested in metaphysical theory; rather, his concern is to indicate a practical way toward liberation by means of disciplined action. This is why he composed the Yoga Sutras, which includes the following eight steps:
Yama, or self-control
Niyama, encompassing various required ethical and moral practices
Asana, or bodily posture and positions, used to find a position in which the concentration is not disturbed by the body
Pranayama, or breath control, practiced because the breath greatly influences one's thoughts and emotional state
Pratyahara, or withdrawal from consciousness
Dharana, or concentration
Dhyana, or meditation
Samadhi, or meditative achievement, becoming one with the object of meditation