The most common format of Patanjali's yoga sutras divides the text into four sections. Each section is called a pada. These four padas each focus on a particular aspect of yoga practice.
Accepting pain as help for purification, study of spiritual books, and surrender to the Supreme Being constitute Yoga in practice.
They help us minimize obstacles and attain samadhi.
Ignorance, egoism, attachment, hatred, and clinging to bodily life are the five obstacles.
Ignorance is the field for the others mentioned after it, whether they be dormant, feeble, intercepted, or sustained.
Ignorance is regarding the impermanence as permanent, the impure as pure, the painful as pleasant, and the non-Self as the Self.
Egoism is the identification, as it were, of the power of the Seer (Purusha) with that of the instrument of seeing [body-mind].
Attachment is that which follows identification with pleasurable experiences.
Aversion is that which follows identification with painful experiences.
Clinging to life, flowing by its own potency [due to past experience], exists even in the wise.
In subtle form, these obstacles can be destroyed by resolving them back into their primal cause [the ego].
In the active state, they can be destroyed by meditation.
The womb of karmas (actions and reactions) has its root in these obstacles, and the karmas bring experiences in the seen [present] or in the unseen [future] births.
With the existence of the root, there will be fruits also: namely, the births of different species of life, their life spans and experiences.
The karmas bear fruits of pleasure and pain caused by merits and demerit.
To one of discrimination, everything is painful indeed, due to its consequences: the anxiety and fear over losing what is gained; the resulting impressions left in the mind to create renewed cravings; and the constant conflict among the three gunas, which control the mind.
Pain that has not yet come is avoidable.
The cause of that avoidable pain is the union of the Seer (Purusha) and the seen (Prakriti, or Nature).
The seen is of the nature of the gunas: illumination, activity and inertia; and consists of the elements and sense organs, whose purpose is to provide both experiences and liberation to the Purusha.
The stages of the gunas are specific, non-specific, defined and undefinable.
The Seer is nothing but the power of seeing which, although pure, appears to see through the mind.
The seen exists only for the sake of the Seer.
Although destroyed for him who has attained liberation, it [the seen] still exists for others, being common to them.
The union of Owner (Purusha) and owned (Prakriti) causes the recognition of the nature and powers of them both.
The cause of this union is ignorance.
Without this ignorance, no such union occurs. This is the independence of the Seer.
Uninterrupted discriminative discernment is the method for its removal.
One's wisdom in the final stage is sevenfold. [One experiences the end of 1) desire to know anything more; 2) desire to stay away from any thing; 3) desire to gain anything new; 4) desire to do anything; 5) sorrow; 6) fear; 7) delusion.]
By the practice of the limbs of Yoga, the impurities dwindle away and there dawns the light of wisdom, leading to discriminative discernment
The eight limbs of Yoga are:
1) yama (abstinence)
2) niyama (observance)
3) asana (posture)
4) pranayama (breath control)
5) pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
6) dharana (concentration)
7) dhyana (meditation)
8) samadhi (contemplation, absorption or superconscious state)
Yama consists of non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence, and non-greed.
These Great Vows are universal, not limited by class, place, time or circumstance.
Niyama consists of purity, contentment, acceptance but not causing pain, study of spiritual books and worship of God [self-surrender].
When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite [positive] ones should be thought of. THis is pratipaksha bhavana.
When negative thoughts or acts such as violence, etc. are caused to be done or even approved of, whether incited by greed, anger or infatuation, whether indulged in with mild, medium or extreme intensity, they are based on ignorance and bring certain pain. Reflecting thus is also pratipaksha bhavanam.
In the presence of one firmly established in non-violence, all hostilities cease.
To one established in truthfulness, actions and their results become subservient.
To one established in non-stealing, all wealth comes.
By one established in continence, vigor is gained.
When non-greed is confirmed, a thorough illumination of the how and why of one's birth comes.
By purification arises disgust for one's own body and for contact with other bodies.
Moreover, one gains purity of sattva, cheerfulness of mind, one-pointedness, mastery over the senses, and fitness for Self-realization.
By contentment, supreme joy is gained.
By austerity, impurities of body and senses are destroyed and occult powers gained.
By study of spiritual books comes communion with one's chosen deity.
By total surrender to God, samadhi is attained.
Asana is a steady, comfortable posture.
By lessening the natural tendency for restlessness and by meditating on the infinite, posture is mastered.
Thereafter, one is undisturbed by the dualities.
That [firm posture] being acquired, the movements of inhalation and exhalation should be controlled. This is pranayama.
The modifications of the life-breath are either external, internal or stationary. They are to be regulated by space, time and number and are either long or short.
There is a fourth kind of pranayama that occurs during concentration on an internal or external object.
As its result, the veil over the inner Light is destroyed.
And the mind becomes fit for concentration.
When the senses withdraw themselves from the objects and imitate, as it were, the nature of the mind-stuff, this is pratyahara.
Then follows supreme mastery over the senses.