Skm Yoga Truly Believes that each yoga master or trainer should learn yoga philosophy in depth because if you want to become the best yoga master in your own eye then you need to understand before you start teaching to society. The Yoga philosophy speaks about the theory and practice for the realization of the ultimate truth concerning human beings and the world. In Vedanta, yoga is understood as ‘union’, i.e. the spiritual union of the individual soul with the supreme soul. This view is not explained clearly. Patanjali, who is the founder of the Yoga System says, yoga is a spiritual effort to attain perfection through the control of sense organs, the gross body, subtle mind, intellect and ego. It guides to achieve the highest wisdom through spiritual realization.

Patanjali’s ‘Yoga-sutras’ are the first and foremost systematic and authoritative presentations of yoga in both its theoretical and practical aspects. Followed by Patanjali, Vasys’s “Yoga–bhasya” and Vacavpati Mishra’s ‘Tattva-vaisaradi” are good additions to Yoga philosophy.

These two works are treated as commentaries on Yoga-sutras. The Yoga Philosophy is closely associated with . Here at Skm Yoga, we devolep the terminology to teach students both Samkhya darshan and Yog darshan together. Yoga presents a practical path for the realization of the self whereas the Samkhya emphasizes the attainment of knowledge of the self by means of concentration and meditation. Thus, it won’t be incorrect to state that yoga is the practice and Samkhya is its theory. The Gita says that Yoga and Samkhya are the practical and theoretical sides of the same system. Although there are many similarities found between Samkhya and Yoga system yet a few dissimilarities are highlighted. The similarities are; that both the schools uphold that liberation can be attained through knowledge. And, to attain this knowledge requires the power to control the body, mind, senses, intellect and ego. Yoga accepts three pramanas which are agreed upon by the Samkhya. These three Pramanas are; perception, inference and verbal testimony.

There are twenty-five metaphysical Principles as viewed by the Samkhya and it is agreed by the Yoga. The dissimilarities lie when Yoga states that there is only one and one Purusa known as the ‘Supreme self’ who is eternal, ubiquitous, and beyond time and space. Rejecting this view, Samkhya expresses that there are many Purusas and hence, there are an innumerable number of selves.

Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutras consist of four parts. These are;

  • i) Samadhipada
  • ii) Sadhanapada
  • iii) Vibhutipada
  • iv) Kaivalyapada

The first part deals with the introduction to the nature and methods of yoga in its various forms. It describes the various modifications of the organs including the Chitta which is an internal organ of human being. The second part explains the causes of suffering and how to eradicate them. It talks about the law of karma and human bondage. The third part elucidates the concept how to achieve the supra-normal powers and in which ways yoga helps it. The last or the final part describes the nature of liberation and spiritual union with the supreme soul/self.

A psychological foundation is a prerequisite to understanding the path of yoga. In other words, a basic understanding of psychology helps to understand the path of yoga in a clear form. Thus, we need to understand on a priority basis ‘what is the psychology of yoga?’. The most important element in the psychology of yoga is Chitta.

Chitta ’ means the three internal organs as described in the Samkhya philosophy- buddhi or intellect, ahamkara or ego, and manas or mind. It is the first modification of the Prakriti in which sattva guna dominates rajas and tamas. It is material by nature, but due to nearness or closeness with the Purusa, it acquires consciousness. But when it relates to an object, it assumes the ‘form’ of that object. This form is called Vrtti or modification. Due to the modifications of Chitta, the self knows the worldly objects. There is no real or actual modification that occurred in the self. But due to the reflection of the Purusa in the modifications of Chitta, there is an appearance of change found in it. Just as the moon appears as moving in the river and waves of the river appear as luminous, similarly Purusa appears as undergoing modifications and Chitta appears as conscious due to Purusa’s reflection in it.

When the knowledge of an object is attained the self ceases to exist from the modifications of Chitta. It even detached from the association and aversion of worldly joys and pain. This attachment and aversion is nothing but ‘bondage’. To get rid of these bondage human beings need to control the modifications of Chitta. One can control the modifications of Chitta only by practising yoga in a continuous manner. In this regard, Patanjali defines yoga as the cessation of the modification of Chitta. On the account of Yoga philosophy, Chitta has different stages and various forms. Let us discuss these issues one after the other.

Stages of Chitta

  • a. Ksipta (Restless) This is the first stage of Chitta. In this stage, Chitta is very much distributed and attached to worldly objects. For example, Chitta of those intoxicated by the possession of power and money.
  • b. Mudha (Torpid) In this stage, tamas dominates the other two Gunas; sattva and rajas. This stage of Chitta is known as mudha. For example, Chitta of the intoxicated persons.
  • c. Viksipta (Distracted) This is the third stage of Chitta where sattva guna dominates the other two gunas. In this stage, yoga begins and Chitta tries to attain god or supreme soul. Due to the sattva dominance, it is found that there is a temporary ceasing of the modifications of the Chitta.
  • d. Ekagra (concentrated) This is the fourth stage of Chitta. In this stage, Chitta is fixed to some object due to the sattva preponderance. It is known as ekagra. For example, the flame of candlelight remains always pointing up without flicking hither and thither. e. Niruddha (Restricted)
  • The fifth and final stage of Chitta is niruddha. In this stage the impressions remain in the Chitta after the cession of modifications. This stage is known as yoga. Out of these five stages, the last two are very helpful and hence useful in yoga. But the remaining stages are harmful to practising in yoga and thus, these may be removed by practice.

Forms of Chitta

Since Chitta is embedded with three gunas -sattva, rajas and tamas, it constantly changes. This is so because of the dominant nature of one guna on others. Hence, there are three forms of Chitta noticed. These are;

  • i) Prakhya
  • ii) Pravrti
  • iii) Sthiti Prakhya

Sattva Guna is dominating in this stage. But, tamas remain as subordinate to sattva. The Chitta aspires for different powers of yoga in this form. For example, anima, siddhi. etc, Pravrti In this form, the Chitta is predominated by rajas. Tamas, here, becomes weak. Thus, this form appears to be enlightened. An example of this form of Chitta would be “dhyana” or “dharna”. Sthiti The Chitta is predominated by sattva, and rajas is subordinated to it. In this form, Chitta holds its own form and differentiates from others.

Modifications of Chitta

The Chitta gets modified or change and acquires consciousness due to the reflection of the Purusa or the self. But the real nature of Chitta is material. The changes in Chitta are known as modifications of Vrttis. The modifications of Chitta are of five types. These are,

  • i) Pramana (right cognition)
  • ii) Viparyaya (wrong cognition)
  • iii) Vikalpa (imagination)
  • iv) Nidra (sleep)
  • v) Smrti (memory)


Yoga school, like Samkhya, adheres to three pramanas. These are; perception, inference and sabda (verbal testimony). In the case of perception, the Chitta through sense organs (both external and internal) comes into contact with external objects of the world and assumes its form. In case of inference, the Chitta cognizes the generic nature of objects and this is equally applicable to verbal testimony also.


The expression ‘Viparyaya’ is understood as ‘doubt’. To possess not determinate knowledge of an object is known as doubt. For example, seeing an object and not able to cognize whether it is a shell or a silver is results in doubt.


It is the knowledge in which the object is known but the object does not exist. Thus, it is treated it as merely a verbal cognition. For example, barren women’s children, horses’ horns, etc.


is a mental modification where there will be no cognition. It is the knowledge of the absence of objects. In this stage, the Chitta is predominated by tamas. However, this stage won’t ignore the mild presence of knowledge while somebody is in sleep. This is so because after waking up from sleep the person has a consciousness that (s)he had slept well and knew nothing. Thus, some sorts of modifications have occurred even in sleep.


Memory or smrti is the recapitulation or recollection of past experiences. Recapitulation is possible through the impressions that we left on the objects while cognized. Thus in this stage some sorts of modifications are found in Chitta.

Kinds of Kleshas

There are several causes responsible for the disturbances in the Chitta . Among those, a few are; attachment with objects of the world, cognizing the objects wrongly, inactivity, doubt, carelessness, etc. These causes arise because Chitta imagines itself as the agent and the enjoyer because of Purusa’s reflection on it. Hence, we find the earthly sufferings (kleshas).

The Yoga philosophy mentions that there are five kinds of kleshas or suffering. These are;

  • i) Avidya (ignorance)
  • ii) Asmita (egoism)
  • iii) Raga (attachment)
  • iv) Dwesa (aversion)
  • v) Abhinivesa (clinging for long life and fear of death

Avidya arises when we cognise the self as non-eternal and material. But the real nature of the self is bliss, eternal, and possesses pure consciousness.

Asmita is wrongly identifying Purusa and Prakrti, and further, bringing them into an equal platform. But in reality, Purusha and Prakrti are two distinct entities, and thus, can’t be equated with each other.

Raga is the craving to get worldly pleasure like power, money, etc

Dwesa is anger in the means of suffering. The last,

Abhinivesa is fear of death which finds among all living beings in earth.

We the human beings have a body, sense organs, and minds, hence, it is obvious to have sensual attachment and passion towards worldly objects. As a result, we have been drawn in the river of bondage and worldly suffering. To get rid of earthly suffering and to remove the ignorance that finds within us, we have to conquer our sense organs, mind and even our bodily act. To do so the Chitta needs to be controlled. In this respect, yoga philosophy prescribes an eight-fold path which helps to control our passions and craving for worldly pleasures.

These eight-fold paths are as follows. i) Yama ii) Niyama iii) Asana iv) Pranayama v) Pratyahara vi) Dharana vii) Dhyana viii) Samadhi Now let us discuss these points one after another in a sequential manner.

Yama It is the control of mind, body, and speech. The five Yamas are

  • a) Ahimsa: it means to accept the principle of non-violence. It upholds that not to kill or do any injuries to any living beings.
  • b) Satya: Satya or truth says to speak the truth and adhere to the truth even in your thinking.
  • c) Asteya: it upholds the principle of non-stealing. This includes both not desiring on others’ wealth and not stealing any goods from others.
  • d) Brahmacharya: it is known as celibacy. Here one needs to control his/her senses towards the attachment of heavenly pleasures. It restrains somebody from not having a sexual life.
  • e) Aparigraha: it says not to accept and aspire for any sorts of unnecessary lavish things for life enjoyment like gold, diamond, etc. All these yamas are badly required for the concentration of Chitta.

ii) Niyama It speaks about the rules for possessing good conduct. There are five niyamas as follows.

  • a) Sauch: it says about cleanliness which includes both external cleaning (e.g. bath, pure diet, hair cutting and cleaning, nail cutting etc.) and internal cleaning (e.g. friendliness, empathy, happiness, smile, etc.
  • b) Santosh: it is understood as contentment. It means be satisfied with yourself whatever you attain or possess. In other words, “what you are, you must be happy with that”.
  • c) Tapa: Tapa or penance includes the power of tolerance. To tolerate extreme and maximum cold and heat, one needs to do hard practice. And, this is possible through tapa.
  • d) Swadhyaya: it says one needs to study religious scriptures to develop his/her spiritual knowledge. It is considered one of the good principles to possess good conduct.
  • e) Iswara Pranidhan: It says always remember God is the supreme authority and all mighty. One should completely surrender himself/herself to him. This is a practice which helps the development of good conduct upheld by yoga philosophy.

iii) Asana is an advanced stage of yoga. It speaks about doing various bodily postures which helps to retain the concentration of Chitta and even helps to control the body as well as mind.

There are various types of asana. Among them, a few includes, padma, sirsa, chakra, garuda, maura etc. It is advisable to do regular practice of asana. The reason is, it not only controls the body such as keeping the body flexible, increasing immunity, etc. but also keeps the body free from diseases and makes it strong and healthy. By doing regular asana one can control the different external and internal organs of the body.

iv) Pranayama
This is the fourth stage in the practice of yoga. Pranayama is understood as control of breath. It suggests that practising pranayama helps the agent to control his/her inhaling and exhaling of breath. This helps Chitta to remain concentrated and focused. Through pranayama one can control his/her body by doing some postures. This makes the agent remains healthy and good. Pranayama has three steps. These are;

  • a) Puraka
  • b) Kumbhak
  • c) Recaka

The first step puraka conveys to take as much air as possible. It is known as inhaling. The second step Kumbhak expresses after inhaling as much air as possible trying to retain it for half of the time taken in inhaling. The third step’ recaka’ states that gradually exhale the air by taking the same time that you had consumed while taking inhalation. These three steps will gradually accelerate, so that in due course of time the agent may control his/her breath which helps the Chitta to remain concentrated and not disturbed.

V). Pratyahara
In this stage, the agent should control his/her sense organs for not to be attracted by worldly objects. He/she will try to restrain the sense organs for not clinging desperately to the objects of the world. Hence, the craving for an object would be ceased. By practising this yoga, the agent can keep his/her mind undisturbed from worldly objects even while living on the earth. To do this practice requires strong determination and repression of the senses.

vi) Dharana
Our mind constantly shifts from one object to another. To keep our mind focused on one particular point and try to check for its frequency of shifting from one object to another is called Dharana. In this stage, the agent keeps his/her mind continuously engaged in one object and tries to bring back the mind to that particular object if it is shifted to another object as quick as possible. For example, an agent tries to concentrate to the top of the flame of a candle, concentrating on the cap of a water bottle.

vii) Dhyana
It is one step ahead of Dharana. In this stage, the aspirant becomes successful to remain concentrated on an object in a long time. Here, the aspirant realizes the whole object by concentrating its one part. This step is known as meditation. It helps to realize the true nature of the Chitta.

viii) Samadhi
The eighth and last step of yoga is known as samadhi. This is the apex stage of yoga. In this stage, the aspirant negates the differences between subject and object and realizes the true nature of the Chitta and how it attains the form of the object. Here, the process of concentration and the object become one and identical. This stage is known as cessation of modification of the Chitta .

Samprajnat (Conscious Samadhi) In this form of samadhi, the aspirant becomes aware of his/her concentration. When the Chitta is concentrated on one object, a similar kind of object of modifications occurs in the Chitta. This is known as conscious samadhi or samprajnat. Concentrating on one object leads to controlling the distracted mind which often attaches to different objects of the world. Thus, it is said that focusing on one object implies dissociating from other objects. Since attachment for worldly pleasures causes suffering, the attention toward a particular object removes worldly sufferings (klesas) and passion for worldly pleasures. This helps to receive the real knowledge of an object and becomes free from the law of karma or karmic influx.

This conscious samadhi is further divided in four types. These are;