Shiva taught the world the technique of yoga. Yoga literally means union and is a form of meditation that teaches about the union between the individual human soul (atman) and the divine soul (paramatman). It is this knowledge that is strived for by those who meditate. And one who does not appreciate this union suffers from illusions. Yoga has five components. These are pranayama, dhyana, pratyahara, dharana and smarana.
Pranayama signifies control over the breath of life. A lion or an elephant is a wild animal. But if lions or elephants are caught and tamed, they can be made to serve man‘s purpose. Exactly similarly, when the breath of life is controlled and mastered, an individual can use it to serve his own will. Pranayama must always be practised in a proper posture (asana).
Pratyahara signifies the withdrawal of the senses from material attachments. The next step is dharana. One chooses the image that one is contemplating and fixes it in one‘s mind. In the process, it is best to concentrate on the tip of one‘s nose or at the centre of one‘s brows. When the image has been thus fixed, one can begin the actual process of meditation (dhyana). Yoga must however always be practised in a proper place and at a proper time. It must not be practised in the middle of the forest, near a fire, or at a place frequented by wild animals and insects. There must not be any noise to distract the practitioner. Nor must yoga be practised when one is hungry or thirsty, or in an unhappy state of mind. If these injuctions are not adhered to, yoga can bring great harm. It can lead to illness, dumbness, deafness, blindness and old age before the appointed time. But practised properly, yoga is a cure for various illnesses.
When one is practising yoga, there are various disturbances and distractions that impede the progress towards the desired goals. These are known as upasargas. For example, one might become overly attached to relations, to becoming wealthy or to attaining heaven. Noises are heard, although there are no real noises at all. Demons, gods and gandharvas are seen. All of these are illusions and have to be conquered. When the upasargas are successfully conquered, a practitioner of yoga attains various powers. These are known as aishvarya (wealth). There are eight of these powers. The first is known as anima. This enables the individual to obtain whatever object he desires from anywhere in the universe instantly. The second is known as laghima. This enables one to travel through the sky. The third power is prapti. By means of this, any object in the three worlds can be attained. The fourth power is called prakamya. This gives the individual the power to obtain all the wealth of the universe. The fifth power is called mahima. Through this power, one can be connected to any place or any object in the universe. The sixth power of ishitva gives one the capability to cause happiness or unhappiness anywhere in the three worlds. The seventh power is vashitva. This grants the power to control other living beings and all objects. The final power is known as kamavasayita. By means of this, the individual can travel freely at will. A person who attains these powers knows no birth, death, old age, illnesss, happiness or unhappiness. The senses mean nothing to him. Nor do material objects. His mind is fixed only on the brahman. Everything else is unreal.