The Yoga Sutras were written around 2000 years ago, and are the basis of much of modern yoga. They were written by Master Patanjali. Little is known about the author or even if it was a single person or several people.
“Sutras” means thread, and the Yoga Sutras were written as a compilation, tying together existing beliefs, ideas, and practices from various ancient spiritual philosophies such as Vedic philosophy and Buddhism, organized into a step by step guide.
How useful is it to study text from thousands of years ago?
I would argue – very useful. The human condition has not changed much from then to now. Looking back on the Sutras we find people were searching for quite similar things in their lives as we are today.
The system of yoga that was outlined in the Sutras and is the basis of the yoga we do today promises:
-The mind becomes steady and clear through practice
-Through practice we learn to minimize distractions and increase our awareness and presence in the present moments of our lives
-Consistent practice empowers us to cultivate greater understanding and acceptance of ourselves and others and the world around us. This understanding can help us use our potential and live with purpose and harmony.
The Sutras outline an active self study. This is yoga. We start on our mats, and commit to steady and consistent practice.
Though the Sutras are lessons, they also have these features:
– There is no one right answer.
-There are many guidelines that prompt us to ask questions of ourselves. Answers will vary from person to person and from day to day.
I like to think of the Sutras as tools not rules.
The First Book of the Yoga Sutras is entitled “Samadhi Pada.” Pada means “book”. You may have heard of Samadhi before, as it is the Eighth Limb of Yoga. Samadhi is a Sanskrit word that has no synonym in English, but it can be interpreted to mean a combination of joy, self-realization, connection, equanimity, and peace. I love to think of it as riding the waves of life with ease.
Drawing on the wisdom from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, we can start to identify our limited belief systems and move towards a more conscious belief system that opens our hearts to understand and accept ourselves, connect with others, lead a more altruistic lifestyle, and create the ultimate happiness that everyone yearns for deep inside their hearts.
Through the weeks ahead I will be bringing the first few yoga sutras to yoga class, and blogging about them here. Each sutra is very short, yet loaded with meaning. I have found it very useful to revisit the Yoga Sutras since I first learned about them in my yoga teacher training, and I am still working through them and what they could mean in the context of my yoga practice and teaching.
Ancient wisdom for modern life.
Yoga Sutra 1:1 Atha yoga anushasanam
“Now, we begin the study of yoga.”
June 2019 Leslie