The word Yoga in Sanskrit means: to bind, to join, to attach and to yoke. It also means union or communion. One can see the union or the binding action in the practice of Yoga by, for example, binding movement and breathing, binding body and soul and binding the soul with the Divine.
Patanjali is the author of the Yoga Sutras. Some say it has been written in 200 BC, while others date them to about 500 AD. Patanjali has often been called the founder of Yoga because of his lifework and his book which is small in size, yet large with insight.

The sutras give us the earliest reference to the eight limbs of Yoga. They are:
  • Yama (embodies ethical disciplines toward our society: nonviolence in the way we act, talk and think, truth, not-stealing, continence, non-coveting)
  • Niyama (embodies disciplines toward ourselves: purity, contentment, austerity, self study and surrender which naturally emerge from a deep love with God)
  • Asana (is a body posture)
  • Pranayama (is controlling our breath)
  • Pratyahara (means withdrawal of the senses, thus making peace with what there is and not constantly chasing after satisfying our 5 senses. In other words it is also self control. However, it also means the ability to turn our attention inward, so we can focus on our center and be balanced)
  • Dharana (means concentration, which is fixing our mind on one point)
  • Dhyana (is meditation, which is a steady continuous flow of attention directed towards one point)
  • Samadhi (means the idealistic state of mind, where the union of the individual with the cosmos is realized)

The aim of Yoga if we would have asked Patanjali would be: "the practice of Yoga must reduce both Physical and Mental Impurities. It must develop our capacity for self-examination and spiritual attunement."

What are The Impurities, The Obstacles?

Patanjali wrote about The Impurities, The Obstacles, that are on our way to a spiritual progress. But what are they exactly?


  • Disease
  • Lack of interest or sluggishness
  • Mentally

  • Doubt
  • Pride or apathy
  • Idleness
  • Indiscipline of the senses
  • Intellectually

  • Wrong view or illusion
  • Spiritually

  • Inability to find a stable ground for a spiritual way
  • An emotional imbalance when coming to sustain a spiritual life

The following symptoms: sorrow, depression, shakiness of the body and irregular breathing, indicate the deepness of the obstacles in our way. To overcome this, one has to be dedicated and devoted to one single way of practice without interruptions and with a quality of positive attitude and eagerness, instead of trying many ways to short periods of time.

Further, an attitude of friendliness, compassion towards the people who suffer, feeling joy with other people's happiness and accepting situations which are pleasurable and painful equally, will bring peacefulness and awareness. The cultivation of this mind-set is an important step in a spiritual (or even just a healthy) life.

Hence, these Obstacles are on our way to clear perception; and they are our Causes of Suffering. They can be decreasd and thus remove suffering through the practice of Yoga, as Patanjali reassures us.