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Why every yoga student should know yoga sutras of Patanjali

The yoga sutras of Patanjali are from the Classical period and were written about 3000 years ago. They are a collection of 195 maxims or aphorisms that are divided into 4 parts: Samadi Pada, Sadhana Pada, Vibhuti Pada and Kaivalya Pada. Sutra means “thread.”

The Samadhi Pada describes the purpose of yoga and various methods that can be used to accomplish the goals of yoga. The Sadhana Pada is a practical guide to the eight limbs of yoga–Ashtanga yoga. The Vibhuti Pada is about the supernatural powers that a master yogi will be able to attain with practice. The Kaivalya Pada covers the nature of the mind, mental perceptions, desire, bondage and liberation and what comes after.

The Yoga Sutras are also very important because in the first chapter Patanjali defines yoga as “yogascitta vritti nirodhah” which translates “Yoga is the restraint of the patterns of the mind.” Patanjali goes on to describe that when the mind is properly restrained, the “higher self” can rest in its own true nature. The unrestrained mind is a slave to its patterns and that is the cause of human suffering.

In a nutshell, this means that by training our minds we can choose to be happy and find release from suffering.

In the second chapter, Patanjali defines the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga:

1) Yamas – self-restraint.

2) Niyams – observances

3) Asana – postures

4)Pranayama – breath control

5) Pratyahara – sense withdrawal

6) Dharna – concentration or focus

7) Dhyana – meditation

8) Samadhi – bliss or total absorption

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