“One is said to be in union with oneself when a fully controlled mind is focussed upon itself only, away from any materialistic desires.” Gita Chapter 6, Verse 18
Our mind is constantly bombarded by signals from various sensory organs, these signals interrupt the realization of true subtle self. To realize this subtle self, we need a certain amount of discipline that begins through changing habits of daily living like diet, activities, exercises, etc. When a person develops physical restraint then he/she should proceed to control one’s breath through practices like pranayama. Once one can control the movements of his/her breath, he/she can proceed to control the senses. After controlling senses, one should work towards concentration, which when advanced leads one to a meditative state that ultimately unites one with oneself i.e. samadhi.
In other words, these are the eight steps of yoga with the ultimate attainment of samadhi (union of the self with supreme self), these eight steps with their names are as follows:
Yama (physical control)
Niyam (Observation of rules and regulations)
Asana (Yogic postures)
Pranayama (Breathe control)
Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses)
Samadhi (the realization of self)
So, we have to begin with small steps by inculcating changes in lifestyle through physical restraints. One of the very convenient methods to increase one’s physical restraint is through fasting, fasting helps in cutting down the impulses through diet. Following rules is the next step that takes this physical control to mental control. Rules and regulations are abstract construct and we need a certain amount of mental restraint in order to not violate them. One of the examples is following a code of ethics, which may require a certain amount of mental restraint to follow. Asanas are the yogic postures or exercises that prepare one’s body for higher stages of yoga as sitting continuously for meditation requires some stamina and strength. Once the body is prepared through Asanas (postures), a practitioner can start controlling breath through pranayama or breathing exercises. This is followed by concentrated effort to meditate, attainment of meditative state, and the ultimate realization of self through the union of the self with the supreme-self or Samadhi.