Yoga Sutras

Below are some notes from my lecture titled:
Introduction to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Patanjali’s Yoga System Summarized
  • Raja Yoga or ‘the royal path of Yoga’ (mental discipline) which includes:
    • Kundalini Yoga (a.k.a. Laya Yoga), Kriya Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Dhyana Yoga
  • Yuj (pron. Yug) means to link, connect, unite.
  • The goal of this self-discipline is to attain higher states of awareness, experience your inner Self, and eventually liberation (while still in the body).
  • Raja Yogi deals only with ‘taming’ the mind.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras Stands Alone:
  • The text may have been inspired by the Vedic scriptures, both refer to the Self, yet the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali do not directly refer to any text specifically. 196 sutras or verses in 4 books, in order on how to attain Yoga (union). The original written document could have fit onto less than 10 pages.
  • “... the Yoga Sutras of Sage Patanjali were not written for intellectual debate and speculation. They were written to explain the process and practical methods of raising levels of awareness, gainer deeper wisdom, exploring the potential of the mind and eventually going beyond the mind. The text is primarily practice-orientated.” - from Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali with Bhasvati, by Swami Hariharananda Aranya
Patanjali’s First 4 Yoga Sutras:
  • 1.1. Now, Yoga.
  • 1.2. Yoga is to block or r the patterns of thought.
  • 1.3. Then the Self (pure witness) is established in its own essential nature.
  • 1.4. If mental restraint is not present, the Self identifies with the contents of the mind!
‘The 8 Limbs of the Yoga Discipline’ - Sutra 2.29
According to Patanjali’s method, the Yogi must first master each limb before moving to the next.
  1. Yama (self-restraint/ social code)
  2. Niyama (personal code)
  3. Asana (sitting pose)
  4. Pranayama (stopping the breath)
  5. Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
  6. Dharana (concentration)
  7. Dhyana (meditation)
  8. Samadhi (superconsciousness)
Book I - Concentration (Samadhi Pada)
  • 51 verses
  • Definition and purpose
  • Practice
  • Detachment
  • Experience
  • Om (Aaauuummm) 
  • Obstacles to progression
Book II - Practice (Sadhana Pada)
  • 55 verses
  • Removing tensions in life
  • Becoming the witness
  • Awareness
  • Intuition
  • 5 of the 8 limbs of Yoga
Book III - Experiences (Vibhooti Pada)
  • 56 verses
  • Final 3 limbs of Yoga
  • Nature and the external (the elements)
  • Psychic powers
Book IV - Absolute Freedom (Kaivalya Pada)
  • 34 verses
  • Cause of separation
  • Understanding Self versus Cosmic Self
  • Karma
  • Unity of all things
  • Perception
  • Liberation (Kaivalya)
* * * I highly recommend reading the entire Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, check my Texts page for my favorite version, the one I read to my classes, and free versions. * * *

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment or ask if you have any questions!


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