According To Patanjali The Abhyasa Will Be Most Effective When The Practice Is Repeated:
1) Continuously over time, 3) With belief that it will work, and 4) With enthusiasm.
Only through faithful repetition can the foreign become familiar, the impossible, possible. This fits with Yogas definition as the ability to do today what we could not do yesterday, to do tomorrow what we cannot do today. Moreover, Yoga teaches that consistent, enthusiastic practice makes the impossible possible in several specific areas of life.
While the Yoga Sutras are rich with wisdom and insight, the eight limbs are the true yoga sadhana, that which can be practiced, that which can be done.
What is a practice? For the average modern student, yoga practice may consist of one to six group asana classes per week, or performing a prescribed sequence of postures at home, or, perhaps, following along with a guided workout video. While this can be enjoyable and has yielded positive results in the west for the last 40 years, it is worlds apart from yogas first 2,000 years.
Fortunately, there are still some contemporary lineages that still offer yoga in the traditional manner. Traditionally, a practice began with a student having the humility to admit to himself or herself that he or she needed help.
How Are The Yoga Sutras Organized
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are divided into four chapters, including Samadhi Pada, Sadhaa Pada, Vibhuti Prada, and Kaibalya Pada. Of these four chapters are 196 sutras, or verses, for yogis to learn and apply to their yoga.
The organization of sutras and chapters was not done by accident, though. The sutras were designed in a very specific matter to ensure the reader could learn and apply the sutras to their life.
For example, Patanjali starts with an introduction to yoga, what it is, and what the end goal is. It is here that yogis get a prelude to what their journey will be all about. In the following chapter, He describes the details of the path and what you need to do to reach enlightenment through the unconscious.
From there, Patanjali describes paranormal powers which can be achieved through yogic discipline. Finally, the last chapter lays out the path that needs to be taken to achieve the ultimate goal of yoga freedom.
That said, the organization of the sutras works as a map or guide for yogis and yoginis to achieve liberation. It starts with a clear introduction and takes the reader on an applicable journey that spawns wisdom, self-realization, and liberation.
The Story Of Patanjali
The Yoga Sutras were composed by a man named Patanjali. There is not much known about him, except that he was presumably Indian and lived somewhere between the second and fourth century BC. Patanjali is also credited with writing the Mahabhasya, a treatise of Sanskrit grammar and a commentary on Charaka Samhita, the basic text of Ayurveda. Whether they are the same or different people remains a scholastic argument.
Mythologically,Vishnuthe maintainer of the Universe, sleeps between creations, resting on the great multi-headed serpent Anantha, floating on the Ocean of Consciousness. When Shiva Nataraj woke Vishnu with his dance of creation, Anantha asked to be born as a great teacher. Shiva granted his wish and he was born as Patanjali in the palm of the great Yogini, Gonika.
In ancient times, most teaching was done orally and students learned by way of sutras. The word sutra comes from the same root as the medical term suture, meaning to connect or hold together. When the teacher expounded on a piece of knowledge, the student would be given a short phrase that would later remind him/her of the greater body of material. This was somewhat the equivalent of modern-day cue cards.
We cannot be sure exactly what Patanjali meant to tell us. His Yoga Sutras have been translated and commented on by many people over the years. The three versions which I like and use as a reference are:
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The first chapter sets the stage for new yogis, with 51 sutras describing what yoga is. In this section, you will find a sutra such as Sutra 1.2: yogas citta-vrtti-nirodhah, which translates to yoga is the control of the mind. This sutra explains the goal of yoga in its entirety to quiet and calm the mind. To achieve innermost focus while releasing temptations, distractions, and stress of the world around you.
This is said to be one of the most important chapters of the Yoga Sutras as it explains, in-depth, how to achieve a yogic state of mind. There are 55 sutras in this chapter and introduce the eight limbs of yoga. These limbs act as a guide for your spiritual journey and include:
As you can see, the eight limbs are interconnected and must be learned in order. The first four limbs prepare the mind and body for the three that follow. When these three are practiced together, it is known as Sanyama. When the seven are done in harmony, the eighth limb is finally attainable.
In the third chapter, 56 sutras display the pros of yoga and why practicing yoga regularly can be beneficial in your life. For example, one sutra says:
The Meaning Of Jnana Yoga
Jnana is the Sanskrit word for knowledge or wisdom. Jnana Yoga simply means the path of knowledge. It is a journey of self-realization. It is the intellectual way of attaining moksha. In this journey, one needs to immerse oneself in introspection.
It was first mentioned in Bhagavad Gita. Even though it involves extensive learning of the scriptures, it neednt be seen as solely theoretical. The knowledge when put to practical use is when one has achieved what he set forth to do.
This kind of yoga holds the mind at high pedestals. Its philosophy is deeply entrenched in the belief that the mind alone can decipher its mysteries. Also, Advaita Vedanta speaks highly of this kind of practice. It says that the knowledge one attains through introspection is identical to the ultimate reality.
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The Meaning Of Vinyasa Yoga
Vinyasa is a Sanskrit word that is derived from the suffix Vi which means variation, and the suffix Nyasa which means to place. This kind of yoga is all about flow. It is a fluid motion, as well as a transition from one pose to another.
It teaches us about the enlightened state of mind where were aware of our actions. In its repetitive motion, we find a rhythm that teaches us the importance of continuity in all things. The vinyasas are progressive steps in a sequence of poses that hold a strange beauty in their fluidity. Some of its poses are Kumbakasana and Bhujangasana .
Book One: Samadhi Pada Contemplation
In the first chapter of the Yoga Sutras, yoga is defined, the goals of the practice are laid out, and potential issues are discussed.
The concept of is also introduced along the lines of stating that yogis shall concentrate and absorb into the Spirit instead of misidentifying with the Self .
As one begins to become a yogi, the practitioner must become aware of how their perceptions, and those of others, have created impressions or programs for how we make judgments and decisions based upon those perceptions.
We have to realize that weve been running on autopilot.
We may believe something, or think we do, due to our own direct experience or to trusting the experience of another. However, we often do not know things as we think due to having selective memory or wrongly perceiving them because of our impressions which can lead us to believe in things that arent true.
So one of the challenges of the yogi is to base perception on truth.
This means not succumbing to confirmation bias, not being influenced by external stimuli or desires, and not drawing erroneous conclusions. It means seeing things for what they are rather than being swayed by a perceived feeling of connection or attachment.
We can strive to practice non-attachment, which is what much of the science of yoga is all about. How? By balancing the Gunas, the qualities of energy or forces of nature.
And Perfection of non-attachment may lead to Samadhi .
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Chitta And Vritti In Yoga Muni Patanjali
Before we can discuss Yoga, we must understand two important things
Swami Vivekananda gives an excellent example of these two. Think of Chitta as a huge lake and vrittis as ripples in the lake. When there are no ripples, you can see the bottom of the lake . That, in a sense, means you have to purify yourself all the while trying to stop different feelings and emotions that arise within you for different reasons. An example of vritti can be impatience. Another example is anger.
If you are angry, you lose your reasoning power and do whatever comes to your brain. As you proceed with yoga, you will realize that reasoning is also a form of vritti , albeit a subtle one. Yogis give up reasoning too, past a phase when truth comes automatically to them. They can sense truth and after that, reasoning is not necessary. Until then, everyone, including Yogis, have to reason with themselves to stay sane in this fast-paced world.
Swami Vivekananda asks people to imagine a lotus and meditate on that. In my opinion, it may be good in the initial phase but is not exactly desirable. Imagination too should be given up for pacifying the mind material . Imagination, is described by Muni Patanjali as a form of vritti . It is important that there are no disturbances in the mind in order to know ones own self.
What Are The First 4 Yoga Sutras
Inside the Yoga Sutras is a collection of 196 verses organized into four chapters. Upon opening the first chapter, known as Samadhi pada, you will be greeted by four sutras that begin to explain what yoga truly is.
- Sutra 1.1 Atha Yoga anushasanam This sutra is the opening to the book. It is translated to Now and discipline, essentially saying that you will now learn the discipline of yoga .
- Sutra 1.2 Yogaha chitta vritti nirodhah The definition of these words are mind, modifications, and control. This describes yoga perfectly, as it is the way to control and modify the mind. That said, sutra 1.2 describes the meaning of yoga itself.
- Sutra 1.3 Tada drashtuh swarupe awasthanam Piggybacking off of sutra 1.2, sutra 1.3 essentially explains what happens when a yogi controls their mind they achieve a true state of being.
- Sutra 1.4 Vritti sarupyam itaratra In the fourth sutra, Patanjali explains that when you are not in control of your mind, your thoughts can overtake you, which is why it is so important to meditate.
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The Branches Of Yoga And What They Mean
Broadly speaking, people all over the world praticse six kinds of yoga. The meaning of yoga is to bring us one step closer to divinities in us and all this kind of yoga does just that, while they may significantly differ in their techniques, but give you the same endpoint- a calm and restrained mind. Here are the different branches of yoga according to what they stand for.
Life Become Gloomy And Stressful
Has life become gloomy and stressful? Let Yoga bring joy in your life. Regain your true identity, Master and Guru, witnessing from within. Pranayama breathing practices optimize your own body energy and focus the mind. Meditation reveals your own identity, Master, not the Actor. Shatter the bonds of Karma, with pure mind, playing your life’s role skillfully.
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Philosophical Roots And Influences
The Yoga Sutras incorporated the teachings of many other Indian philosophical systems prevalent at the time. According to Zimmer, Samkhya and Yoga are two of several schools of philosophy that originated over the centuries that had common roots in the pre-Aryan cultures and traditions of India. Yet, the orthodox Hindu philosophies of Samkhya, Yoga, Vednta, as well as the non-orthodox Nastika systems of Jainism and Buddhism can all be seen as representing one stream of spiritual activity in ancient India, in contrast to the Bhakti traditions and Vedic ritualism which were also prevalent at the same time. The Vedanta–Sramana traditions, iconolatry and Vedic rituals can be identified with the Jnana marga, Bhakti marga and the Karma marga respectively that are outlined in the Bhagavad Gita.
Book Three: Vibhuti Pada Accomplishments Gifts And Supernatural Powers
Time for the Siddhis which are gained from perfecting the practices within the Eight Limbs. Patanjali warns us that these powers are not the goal of yoga, just by-products so do not get caught up in the fancy fun!
The third chapter of the Yoga Sutras is about practising Samyama , through the final three Limbs of Yoga, in which the yogi directs the mind into:
- Dharana concentration, or focusing the mind on an object
- Dhyana meditation, or the uninterrupted flow of the mind toward the chosen object
- Samadhi absolute union, when the mind becomes totally absorbed, or transparent, and no separate sense of self is felt, only the object shines forth in awareness
Combining the first two of these three limbs, in Samyama, can steady the constant flow of information to the mind and guide us towards the light of knowledge.
When nothing is needed anymore, the final Limb of Samadhi is reached. Observe the Self. Know the Self. See the true light of the Self. Detachment is the ultimate goal of Raja yoga and is achieved when attachments are gone.
In modern life, there are endless distractions. Many we can release, many are necessary. So we practice to meet our Self, the infinite within and we take that out into our world.
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The Meaning Of Sankhya Yoga
Sankhya or Samkhya is a Sanskrit word that closely resembles the act of deliberation through numerical methods. According to Hindu philosophy, it is an act of rational judgment. The philosophy has numerical reasons as its basis. It is considered the best kind among all kinds of yogas. If you know Sankhya yoga, then you need no other yoga! The second chapter of Bhagavad Gita speaks of this Yoga explicitly.
According to its philosophy, the universe is made of two realities Purusha and Prakriti. The literal meaning of Sankhya is the segregation between these two realities. Jeeva is the manifestation of the state in which Purusha and Prakriti are bound. It explains the constituent principles of the universe.
To Be More We Must Do More
Sutra 1:12 reveals the way to more. Yogas definitive tool for self-improvement, for achieving our goals, is practice. Regular practice, or abhyasa, is the first of two essential steps toward positive change.
The second is vairagya, the ability to detach, to let go of the negative. Abhyasa and viragya are like the two wings of a bird. To arrive at a new destination, both are required. This sutra also suggests a simple strategy: that we should always add something positive before attempting to give up the negative, that abhyasa precedes vairagya.
For it is much easier to let go of a bad habit or limiting belief after we have replaced it with something better. The new pattern provides the strength and stability to release the old, and focusing on the new prevents us from dwelling on the loss of the familiar.
The next sutra, 1:13, explains that every practice should be carefully designed to achieve a specific goal. The Yoga Sutras never insist on a specific goal, but explain that whatever the goal, the correct practice is required to obtain the desired result. If the students goal were to reduce the stress caused by being self-destructive and overachieving, the correct practice would probably be one that is more gentle and kind.
A practitioner eager to heal a physical injury might need to forego postures altogether in favor of breath work or visualization.
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Why Is Yoga Important In Modern Life
The importance of yoga in modern life is abundant. Yoga teaches us the knowledge of how to lead a healthy living. It improves our concentration, creativity and sharpens our memory. … So another importance of yoga in modern life can be that yoga improves our muscle strength, stamina and bring immune and mental stability.
Exploring The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali: Sutra 12
In yoga sutra 1.2, the second sutra of book one, Patanjali lays out the definition and purpose of yoga. Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah: yoga is the cessation of the modifications, or fluctuations, of the mind. This sutra gets right to the heart of why we practice yoga. No time is wasted. We learn right away what yoga is and why we practice it, while the rest of book expands on the topic and offers ways to go about calming these modifications of the mind.
So what are modifications of the mind? Simply put, its the mind chatter that draws our attention away from the present moment. When you are in yoga class, focusing on your breath while feeling the movement of your body and suddenly you wonder what youll have for lunch, or you remember a conversation you need to have with someone, or you look over at the person next to you and wish that your pose looked like hers, your mind is fluctuatingyou are no longer present. These are the modifications of the mind that yoga is trying to quiet.
This goal of yoga is simple but not always easy. Our minds are so conditioned to follow thought strands that take us from topic to topic, anywhere but where we currently are. Becoming caught up in our thoughts feels natural to us because we do it almost all the time. Quieting this chatter, using the tools of the yoga practice, can feel almost impossible at times. This is one reason why many people find meditation to be intimidating. I could never sit still and do nothing, they say.
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