Yoga philosophy is the most ancient teaching of the way to improve the human spirit. This teaching came to us from the ancient Aryan civilization. Yoga is one of the philosophy schools (darshan) in India. The basic principles of yoga are described in the treatise “Yoga Sutras”, authored by Patanjali. Very little information about the author is known. Various sources date the “Yoga Sutras” in the intervals from the 2nd century BC to the 2nd century AD. However, it is authentically known that Patanjali did not invent the teaching itself.
His description of yoga is based on the oldest written treatise – the Vedas (2nd millennium BC), as well as on the Upanishads (6-3 century BC), and on such ancient works as Mahabharata and Ramayana (1 millennium BC). All these ancient sources contain references to the key techniques of yoga, but there is no system and order.
Patanjali was the first one who summarized and systematized all the most ancient knowledge about yoga in his work “Yoga Sutras”. After more than two thousand years his work is deservedly considered classical in the theory of yoga. “Yoga Sutras” like most books written at that time, consists of short statements – sutras. Most likely they acted as memos for memorizing long oral discourses. Obviously, this was enough for the students of Patanjali, but for followers who do not have an opportunity to apply directly to the teacher, it is impossible to practice yoga only based on these sutras. Therefore, there are explanations to the “Yoga Sutra”. The most authoritative of them were written by the philosopher Vyasa. He wrote his treatise “Yoga Bhasya” in the 5th century AD.
Everything that exists is divided into two components – Purusha and Prakriti. Purusha is the spiritual component, and Prakriti is the material component. Prakriti is all that we can see, hear, feel in any possible way. In other words, these are practically everything, from molecules to planets and galaxies.
Purusha is a soul or spirit, outside the material world, it lacks a specific form and it is difficult for a person to imagine it.
In the classical version of yoga, there is a God – Inshvara, embodiment of Purusha. Besides him there are many other deities, and he is considered the main one among them. Inshvara did not create the Earth and does not dominate the world, but it can unite spirit and the matter.
Prakriti constitutes of three main forces called gunas. Guna sattva – peace, guna rajas – movement, guna tamas – degradation. As long as the spirit does not affect the matter, these forces are balanced. When spirit and matter unite, the forces begin to interact and change, forming all that exists.
When the forces interact, five elements are formed: water, earth, fire, air and ether.
The classical teaching of yoga says that the ultimate goal of human existence must be liberation from the material. The pursuit of material affects karma. In fact, karma is a cause-and-effect law. It states that all actions performed by a person influence his future. In the Vedas, it says: whoever sows good, reaps good, who sows evil, will reap evil.
According to the teachings, only by practicing yoga, we can gradually come to an understanding of the existence and give up an aspiration for material things. A person who succeeds in abandoning material attachments will cease to be reborn. He will exist only in the spiritual world in the form of the unchanging Spirit, which is equal to the god Inshvari.