Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Yogi Corner: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Yogi Corner: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Did you know that the practice of yoga can now be traced back nearly 6000 years? In these early days, a yoga disciple learned the practice from his Guru (teacher) over the course of many years. Today we have crowded gym rooms with classes of over 50 students teaching their version of yoga. With such a vast difference, what really is yoga? 

Our best means of understanding yoga comes from a book called The Yoga Sutras. Here in this book an Indian sage named Patanjali compiled several "sutras" (threads of thought) together from various authors over hundreds of years of experiences of the practice. It is what we today refer to us our Yoga Bible. In it 185 compressed thoughts are displayed over four sections: 1. The Settled Mind, 2. Treading the Path, 3. Expansion, and 4. Self-Realization. 

It is often said that the second sutra explains quite succinctly the definition of yoga. It reads:

yogash chitta-vritti-nirodhah. 
In English, "Yoga is the complete settling of the activity of the mind." (Yoga is the complete settling (nirodha) of the activity (vritti) of the mind (chitta).) If this is considered to be the classical definition of yoga, it begs the question "why am I so concerned with mastering Bakasana?" Food for thought...
Of course, the other 184 sutras are equally enlightening. In yoga teacher training, almost every yoga school requires the trainees to read this text. There is a version that explains each sutra separately and is fairly easy for most students to understand. It is the translation and commentary is by Sri swami Satchidananda. A quick link to our amazon store is here where you will find the book on the 6th page: OYC Amazon Store
Each month for 2014 we will visit one of the sutras or sections of the sutras here at the "Yogi Corner" section of the newsletter. You can use the sutras for meditation and contemplation, book discussion groups, or self-study for your own yoga practice. Namaste.