For most of us, ‘Yoga’ means ‘Asanas’, but there is more to Yoga than just Asanas. It is one of the primary paths of self-realization/moksha in vedanta, with ‘Asana’ being one part of it.

Yoga, which is also called Dhyan or Raj Yoga, is an ancient technique which was summarized by Patanjali in the form of Yoga Sutras. These Yoga-Sutras are like handbook for anyone who wants to get onto this path.

“Universe in the body” is the principle on which Raj yoga is based upon. For this path, nothing from outside is needed, person needs to follow steps given in yogasutra to improve on the ability to meditate and reach the state of samadhi ‘at will’, where he/she is unified with the Universe (or Brahman/God as some may call). 

Given that, Raj Yoga can take a long for someone to reach state of Samadhi, followers of this path, need to work towards improving body longitivtiy and stamina, and that’s where Asana (and Pranayamas) help.

The eight Angas (parts or steps) of Raj-Yoga, start with Yama, Niyama (controlling body and mind), and followed by Asanas and Pranayama. These four angas form the foundation for further progress, towards final goal of samadhi, following Pratyahara, Dharana and Dhyana along the way.

However, In the modern practice of Yoga, many of us skip Yama/Niyama, and directly jump to Asanas/Pranayama in order to get benefit of health and longevity it provides, which is a good idea even though one is not a serious follower of Raj-Yoga.

But, as we skipped Yama/Niyama, and don’t have intention of furthering on the path of raj-yoga, we end up in using that additional health and longevity we got, to have ‘more sensory pleasures’, negating the whole purpose of this ancient technique.

So, On this International Yoga Day, while doing yoga, let’s have a higher goal for that additional time and health we have got from yoga, something beyond the selfish sensory pleasures, something for betterment of ourselves and society in general.

All the Best!

More about each of the Angas:…/pat…/raj-dhyan-yoga/