Sutra Study Recap July 18

It was so nice to see some friendly faces via zoom for our Yoga Sutra discussion group. For some this was a review and for others this was the first time looking at this ancient text. I look forward to developing the conversation with the richness that lies ahead as we continue and meet again this Saturday. The yoga sutras are said to be one of the most  profound and enlightening studies of human nature and the search for spiritual liberation. I hope these group discussions will bring a depth to your yoga study and your life on and off the mat. Thank you all for coming!

We briefly discussed the history of yoga before looking more closely at the first four sutras that cover the definition and purpose of yoga. We discussed the workings of the citta (components of the mind) and then the vrttis (flucations) of the mind. 

Yoga Sutra I.1 “atha yoganusasanam” – Now atha is a common word for authors to announce the specific subject matter. Although yoga had been mentioned in earlier texts and was already an ancient practice, Patanjali now implies that he has systemized a method and presents it as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. 

Yoga Sutra I.2 “yogah cittavrtti nirodhah” – is the definition of yoga. Yoga is the practice to restrain the fluctuations of the consciousness.  citta - consciousness vrtti - flucuations nirodhah - restraint

Yoga Sutras I.3 and I.4 “tada drastu svarupe vastahanum”  “vrtti sarupyam itaratra”– Simply put, if we can quiet those fluctuations of the mind, then we can dwell in our own true splendor. If not, then we will continue to identify with those fluctuations and lose sight of our Self. 

The practice of yoga is a dualistic philosophy. It is important to understand that it recognizes that there is Purusha (the inner most unchanging individual self, or soul) and Prakriti (every thing that changes… Nature). From this understanding we are always dealing with trying to understand the difference. 

Yoga Sutras I.5-I.11 – The following sutras discussed the five kinds of changing states of our mind, which can be either detrimental or non detrimental to the practice of yoga. 

pramana – source of correct knowledge

viparyaya – error or wrong knowledge

vikalpa – imagination, fancy

nidra – sleep

smrtayah – memory

The yoga sutras are a total of 196 short aphorisms divided into four chapters or padas. We will continue our discussion in the first chapter, Samadhi Pada, with sutras I.12 – I.16 on Saturday, August 1.