Yogic Principles

Kṛṣṇa emphasizes practice and renunciation as ways to control the mind. But what is that renunciation? Today it is hardly possible for us to renounce anything, for we are so habituated to such a variety of material sense pleasures. Despite leading a life of uncontrolled sense indulgence, we attend yoga classes and expect to attain success. There are so many rules and regulations involved in the proper execution of yoga, and most of us can hardly give up a simple habit like smoking. In His discourse on the meditational yoga system, Kṛṣṇa proclaims that yoga cannot be properly performed by one who eats too much or eats too little. One who starves himself cannot properly perform yoga. Nor can the person who eats more than required. The eating process should be moderate, just enough to keep body and soul together; it should not be for the enjoyment of the tongue. When palatable dishes come before us, we are accustomed to take not just one of the preparations but two, three and four—and upwards. Our tongue is never satisfied. But it is not unusual in India to see a yogī take only a small spoonful of rice a day and nothing more. Nor can one execute the meditational yoga system if one sleeps too much or does not sleep sufficiently. Kṛṣṇa does not say that there is such a thing as dreamless sleep. As soon as we go to sleep, we will have a dream, although we may not remember it. In the Gītā Kṛṣṇa cautions that one who dreams too much while sleeping cannot properly execute yoga. One should not sleep more than six hours daily. Nor can one infected by insomnia, who cannot sleep at night, successfully execute yoga, for the body must be kept fit. Thus Kṛṣṇa outlines so many requirements for disciplining the body. All these requirements, however, can essentially be broken down into four basic rules: no illicit sexual connection, no intoxication, no meat-eating and no gambling. These are the four minimum regulations for the execution of any yoga system. And in this age who can refrain from these activities? We have to test ourselves accordingly to ascertain our success in yoga execution.

The first step in astanga yoga is yama and then niyama.


Yama is meant for controlling the senses.

In order to advance in spiritual understanding, one has to hear from authentic sources about spiritual knowledge. One can understand the reality of spiritual life by following strict regulative principles and by controlling the senses. To have control it is necessary that one be nonviolent and truthful, refrain from stealing, abstain from sex life and possess only that which is absolutely necessary for keeping the body and soul together. One should not eat more than necessary, he should not collect more paraphernalia than necessary, he should not talk unnecessarily with common men, and he should not follow the rules and regulations without purpose. He should follow the rules and regulations so that he may actually make advancement.  

ahimsa satya asteya brahmacharya aparigraha yama –Yoga sutra 2.30