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Seven Stages of Yoga – Introduction – Meditation

We as practitioners of Yoga step outside the flow of time, to awaken to experience the eternal blissful source of the underlining layers of all creation. We strive to enter moment by moment awareness as our focus becomes more refined as we continue to practice. What we truly are, was and will always be, our true nature that is joyous, light and always free from suffering. All Yoga is the returning to the source of this nature where we awaken to Viveka Khyati which is the discerning wisdom that leads to enlightenment. To experience this state of Yoga, we practice Yoga, trying to train the mind to attain the state of Prajna (light of intelligence) of Buddhi (intuitive wisdom) that guides us to this goal. Patanjali states in 2.27 that at this point, Prajna and Buddhi develops in seven stages. He never specifically lists the stages, as it is an assumption on his part that his students are already familiar with these seven stages. There is a lot of commentary on what these steps are, however, and Georg Feuerstein lists a very simple blueprint in which we as practitioners can apply to our practice to create a powerful impact to lead us to our goal. 

7 Stages of Yoga 2.27 Georg Feuerstein 

  1. Self-Awareness
  2. Self-Understand
  3. Self-Acceptance
  4. Self-Discipline
  5. Self-Actualisation
  6. Self-Transcendence
  7. Self-Transformation 
  1. Self-Awareness – We become aware and able to identify the sources of what is causing suffering as we notice in real time our thoughts, emotions, sensation and our breath. This is a dissolving of Avidya – Ignorance so we can see. 
  2. Self-Understand – We understand the root causes of suffering, a deeper knowledge of our issues, habits and tendencies. This is a dissolving of Raga – Attachment from the bondages of that which does not serve our awakening. 
  3. Self-Acceptance – We find acceptance of what is, welcoming it all as a teacher and rejecting none. We find profound stillness (Nirodha), fully absorb (Samadhi) in the now and empowering ourselves to lean into what is without resistance. There true wisdom arises. This is a dissolving of Dvesa – Aversion, the dissolving of resistance. 
  4. Self-Discipline – The skilful means to liberation as we have been practicing over and over again through following the method of Yoga. We continue our dedication to practice, refining our relationship to the first three steps until the mind no longer needs to inquire as it has benefited from the discipline of practice.
  5. Self-Actualisation – As a result from a disciplined practice, the light of Intelligence (Prajna) has fulfilled its purpose to enjoy a lived experience (Bhoga) and at the same time has been liberated (Apavarga). We recognise not just who we are, but what we are. This is the dissolving of Asmita – Egotism and the awakening to the Self that abides in the Self as the Self, one, whole and timeless embodied.
  6. Self-Transcendence – The activities of your intuitive wisdom (Buddhi), no longer is needed as we experience the ability to transcend karma, the bondage to that cause of suffering and we bathe in freedom. This is described as your consciousness comes to ‘rest as a stone, which has rolled down a mountain, having no need to arise again.’ This is a dissolving of Abinivesha – Fear of loss, change and death. 
  7. Self-Transformation – Here we transform into what we truly are, Pure consciousness, standing as one, in its true, eternal blissful radiant Self. Like receiving an evolutionary upgrade to our soul’s purpose of embodiment.

Yoga Sutra 2.28 states through the practice of the 7 Stages to Yoga, whereby the mind has refined its focus and has dissolved the Kleshas blocking it from knowing the true nature of being, there arises Viveka Khyati, the illumination of discerning wisdom that leads to enlightenment and liberation. Though this seems an exciting level and state to attain, it is said that this is not the final liberation and there is considered further liberation to achieve while still living in a body. This suggests we should go back to step one and keep practicing. HA!