To Begin To Live Your Yoga
Learning the Sutra isnt just about putting asana into the wider perspective of yoga, though. Its also about looking at what it means to practice yoga within the context of life as a whole. Yoga is not only a practice, but also a state of being. Patanjali provides us with guidelines for living a yogic life, including standards of ethics and self-conduct, so that we can know what it feels like to live and act in harmony and integrity with our highest values, even when we face difficulty. This may be the greatest gift of all.
About Our ExpertsJudith Hanson Lasater, PhD, PT, has been teaching yoga since 1971. She trains students and teachers throughout the United States as well as abroad, is one of the founders of Yoga Journal magazine, and is president of the California Yoga Teachers Association. She has written eight books. Learn more at judithhansonlasater.com.
Raised in San Francisco and trained as a designer, Lizzie Lasater, MArch, RYT, teaches yoga internationally and online. She sometimes jokes that shes been practicing yoga since the womb because her mom, Judith Hanson Lasater, has been teaching since before Lizzies birth. Lizzie lives in the Alps with her Austrian husband. You can find her schedule and classes at lizzielasater.com.
The Four Books Of The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali Explained
The four books originate from the teachings of the sage Patanjali. Around 400 BCE, he wrote a collection of texts that consisted of 196 sutras . These 196 sutras were further categorized into the four books, now referred to as the Four Books of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
As a side note, these are great references for anyone who is diving into the Yogic Lifestyle but especially for those pursuing their Online Yoga Teacher Training, these are great resources to help you understand what is behind the asanas.
According to Yogapedia, the four books of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are:
Each book works together to create a teaching guide towards a spiritual journey into understanding oneself better.
The Purpose And Practices Of Patanjalis Yoga
Editors note: This is the second installment of a three-part series in which Brother Shankara guides readers through the meaning and goals of yoga, based on Patanjalis Yoga Sutras.
Swami Vivekananda said, Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophyby one, or more, or all of theseand be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.
Vivekanandas bold proclamation points directly to the purposes of Patanjalis Yogathe realization of ones innate divinity by gaining control of the outer and inner aspects of the human form.
Many people who practice hatha yoga are acquainted with Patanjalis Yoga Sutrasits usually a sourcebook for their instructors. Students are taught asanas and other ancient, proven techniques to strengthen the body and quiet the mind. Patanjali claims these exercises lead to greater psychological and physical poise, heightened mental alertness and increased psychic power.
According to Patanjali, most of his methodologysix of the eight limbs of his yogais devoted to achieving this ability to meditate.
Years ago, on Saturday Night Live, characterRoseanne Roseannadanna often lamented,Its always something!Something, indeedthe something that keeps many people trapped in a tedious, unsatisfactory way of life.
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The Eight Limbs Of Raja Yoga
The eight limbs or steps are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. A number of commentators break these eight steps into two categories. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, and Pratyahara comprise the first category. The second category, called Samyama is comprised of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. The division between the two categories exists because in latter three mentioned steps there is no cognizance whereas in the first five steps cognizance exists.
- Since there is no cognizance to these three stages , they are not bound by time or succession. The result is that they exist independently and also exist simultaneously. Any one, two or three can exist at the same time. When the three stages exist simultaneously then it is called the simultaneous existence.
- Taken from the commentary on Patanjali Sutra III.4 by Master E.K.
Patanjali divided his Yoga Sutras into 4 chapters or books , containing in all 195 aphorisms, divided as follows:
- Samadhi Pada
Samadhi refers to a blissful state where the yogi is absorbed into the One. The author describes yoga and then the means to attaining samadhi. This chapter contains the most famous verses: Atha yoga anusasanam and Yogas citta vritti nirodha .
- Sadhana Pada
- Yama= abstentions
These are 5 in number
These also are 5 in number:
Vibhuti is the Sanskrit word for power or manifestation. This book describes the higher states of awareness and the techniques of yoga to attain them.
- Kaivalya Pada
Build A Lifelong Practice
Yoga is often defined as physical asana practice especially in the West. The Yoga Sutras remind us that yoga is so much bigger than it first seems, and allow us to develop a broader view. While physical asanas may benefit the body when we are young, these movements may become difficult as we age. Understanding the deeper benefits of yoga allows us to build a lifelong practice. Though asanas may be limited by age, other yoga techniques such as meditation, pranayama, and self-study can be used throughout our lives.
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Why Are The Yoga Sutras Important To Your Yoga Practice
In Yoga practice, every Yogi learns from a teacher. Many well known Yoga mentors still keep up the oral tradition of passing on knowledge.
Even if you have one of those mentors, studying foundational texts such as the Yoga Sutras is a great way to gain a better understanding of Yoga practice and its history. When we understand the history behind Yoga, we can practice, teach, and learn from a more authentic foundation.
While the Yoga Sutras hardly mention anything about moving your body on a mat, they are a wonderful opportunity to incorporate more Yoga practices into your daily life.
What Are The 8 Limbs Of Yoga
Yoga is a practice of transforming and benefitting every aspect of life, not just the 60 minutes spent on a rubber mat if we can learn to be kind, truthful and use our energy in a worthwhile way, we will not only benefit ourselves with our practice, but everything and everyone around us.
In BKS Iyengars translation of the sutras Light On The Yoga Sutras, he explains that Yamas are unconditioned by time, class and place, meaning no matter who we are, where we come from, or how much yoga weve practised, we can all aim to instil the Yamas within us.
Read more about the Yamas and Niyamas
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What Do The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali Mean
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a collection of four books written by Sage Patanjali to guide the reader through the trials and tribulations of self-discovery through yoga. The goal is to reconnect the mind and soul back to the physical body through self-reflection, mantras, and spiritual practices.
Because the Yoga Sutras are more of a guide rather than an answer, they do not have a specific, universal meaning to them. Instead, they are welcoming to the fact that each person will have their own takeaways from the lessons and teachings. Regardless, one goal remains throughout the spiritual process: reconnection with the Self and liberation from stress caused by the disconnect of the spirit and the universe.
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~ Breaking Free From Your Mental Prison ~
During the process of thinking which we undeniably, yet unconsciously do all the time thoughts of memories or desires often appear. Our active mind either takes us back to the past when we recall or think of former experiences, or were anticipating something in the future. Thus, our mind is a master in keeping us off the present moment. There is a constantly running wheel produced in our mind: impressions lead us to develop a desire of having or experiencing something, then we find ourselves acting and getting what we desire, just as the next impression brings us to the next desire, and this wheel goes on and on. Consequently, were always seeking to external sources in the process of finding happiness and fulfillment, while our mind does not allow us to arrive in the present moment. These distractions and attachments to the outside do have great potential to cause suffering.
A simple example is our own identification based on external attachments. When someone asks Who are you?, we usually identify ourselves in terms of our jobs, positions, roles, relationships, political affiliations, cultures or hobbies. So wed say I am a house wife and mother or I am a psychologist.
Although we do need some kind of explanations in order to perceive and express ourselves here on earth this is why we have an ego, its somehow a necessity. But being bounded and dependent on the external is the source of our dissatisfaction and emotional pain.
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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.
Yogapedia Explains Dharma Sutra
From Sanskrit, dharma means “right way of living” or “righteousness,” and sutra means “sacred thread” or “code.” As such, dharma sutra may be translated as “righteousness thread” or “righteousness discourse.”
Dharma sutras emerged from the traditions of the Vedasand were a guideline, or prescription, to live rightly in Hindu society. They also discuss ethical standards and the four stages oflife, called ashramas, that a person is expected to experience.
Dharma sutras were written in prosewith the intent they could be memorized and shared through storytellingtraditions. However, throughout time, they were eventually written in verse form, which is calledDharmasastra.
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Understand How To Reach Happiness
The Yoga Sutras explain how negative thoughts can get in the way of happiness. You may have heard the famous saying the biggest obstacles in our life are the barriers our mind creates. The Yoga Sutras explain just how true this quote is. The books also explain how to use yoga to prevent this from happening. Learning to let go of negative emotions and to take risks allows us to build a happy, carefree lifestyle.
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, Vedanta, 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.
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The Yoga Sutras: Ancient Yogic Wisdom Can Help You Get Through 2020
Patanjali, one of Indias great sages, distilled everything he learned about Yoga from the masters of his time into a masterpiece known as the Yoga Sutras, a collection of 196 verses on the philosophy and practice of yoga.
The ultimate aim of the Yoga Sutras was for practitioners to attain spiritual enlightenment .
Even if thats not necessarily what were all seeking today, the Yoga Sutras still contain timeless lessons about how to live better and how to deal with the hardships we all face sometimes.
The sutras are written in Sanskrit, the beautiful ancient language of India, and then translated and explained. We hope that they help you tap into the universal abundance of human wisdom that connects us all.
Wisdom from the Yoga Sutras: Yoga helps calms the mind
- vritti = fluctuations
- nirodhah = quieting
In the 2nd sutra, Patanjali states the purpose of yoga to bring stillness to the chaotic fluctuations of the mind.
What are these fluctuations, you might ask?
They encompass thought: from random, superficial thoughts about the weather to our deeper desires, fears, aversions, and sense of self. Yoga allows us to witness and accept these fluctuations as they are changing, fleeting. It gives us a lens to observe these thoughts as separate from ourselves, and truly be present.
Want to apply this sutra to the practice of presence? Try this free guided meditation for Setting Your Intention on YogaToday!
Ii Sadhana Pada 55 Sutras
Sadhana in Sanskrit means practice and Sadhana Pada simply means, the path of practice. Here, in the second chapter of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali explains the two paths or the two forms of Yoga: Kriya Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga .
He begins with a definition of Kriya Yoga, the yoga of action, which consists of a deliberate effort, a study of the self and traditional texts, and devotion. The purpose of Kriya Yoga is to alleviate the causes of suffering and to attain Samadhi. Kriya Yoga has three parts:
- Tapas Endurance and Acceptance.
The eight limbs of yoga support one another, but their progression isnt meant to be rigid. For example, someone might begin the practice of an asana before they have mastered Niyama, still, they must follow the overall elements of the 8 limbs to have a wholesome growth.
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What Are The Yoga Sutras
Theres so much more to yoga than what happens on the mat. The Yoga Sutras were penned by possibly the most famous yoga philosopher Patanjali between 2,000 3,000 years ago.
These 196 Sutras or threads of knowledge that can be used as guide to find an enlightened life one filled with happiness, purpose and intention.
If youre in need a fresh perspective or a little push in the direction, the Sutras offer an ancient wisdom that can still be applied in todays modern world.
Within these texts, Patanjali presents a path called the eight limbs of yoga. This is where the practice really goes beyond showing up in studio!
Samadhi Bliss Or Enlightenment
Many of us know the word samadhi as meaning bliss or enlightenment, and this is the final step of the journey of Patanjalis Yoga Sutras. After weve re-organised our relationships with the outside world and our own inner world, we come to the finale of bliss.
When we look at the word samadhi though, we find out that enlightenment or realisation does not refer to floating away on a cloud in a state of happiness and ecstasy. Sorry.
Breaking the word in half, we see that this final stage is made up of two words sama meaning same or equal, and dhi meaning to see. Theres a reason its called realisation and its because reaching Samadhi is not about escapism, floating away or being abundantly joyful its about realising the very life that lies in front of us.
The ability to see equally and without disturbance from the mind, without our experience being conditioned by likes, dislikes or habits, without a need to judge or become attached to any particular aspect that is bliss.
Theres just one catch though Samadhi isnt a permanent state. Patanjalis Yoga Sutras importantly tell us that unless we are completely ready, without impressions such as attachment, aversion, desires and habits, and with a completely pure mind, we will not be able to maintain the state of Samadhi for long:
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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: