What are Patanjali Yoga Sutras?

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Patanjali Yoga Sutras is the world’s foremost treatise on yoga (yoga as a spiritual practice) and asana (yoga posture). However, upon deeper study, we find that each asana speaks about the 3 dimensions of life, namely Bahir, Anthar and Antharaanthara sadhana. Bahir sadhana includes yama, niyama, asana, and pranayama; Anthar sadhana includes prathyahara; and Antharaanthara sadhana includes anthara dhyana, dharana, and samadhi. Each sutra contains the message of Ashtanga (eight limbs) yoga.

Practice such as Patanjali's yoga sutras always transforms the sadhaka (practitioner), but note that practice is not a habit. In habit, the mind and awareness are not engaged. In true practice, however, you must engage 100% of your focus each time. Then, and only then, will there be a transformation every time. Therefore, when practicing an asana, something new is experienced each time. This is also true for Pranayama and Meditation.

In your daily practice, do not approach your asana, pranayama or meditation with a set frame of mind. Rather, let that asana frame the structure of your mind and body with no expectations. Letting go of your expectations and being fully aware during the practice removes all interruptions and impediments, allowing the prana (flow of energy) and the presence of your intelligence to be felt intensely. This intense feeling is called Pragnashakti, the awareness of the pranic energy. The pranic energy that flows throughout the body should be felt through the intelligence. Thus, the asana that you practice with full awareness frames your mind which helps you explore your mind and body.

In Sanskrit, this flow of investigation is called “Vicharadhara”, the interdependent interaction between kriya and karma, the inner and outer actions, respectively, in whatever you do. The outer and the inward actions are interdependent, and through awareness and practice we feel the harmonious co-ordination and co-operation between mind and body: without body there is no mind and without mind there is no body. This harmonious union between mind and body is essential while doing this sadhana, such that the feeling of duality and division will disappear, resulting in a natural flow of pranic energy, and in this state, you become very firm with strong conviction and clear judgement, and able to feel the flow of energy, intelligence and prana perfectly well. Each asana (for example, Trikonasana) has its own special motion with unique mudras, resulting in distinct subtle outer and inner movements. With the fullness of energy and attentive intelligent presence, one must be quick to see these non-deliberate spontaneous adjustments taking place and channel your intelligence and energy flow to all parts of your body. As a result, when you practice a particular asana with attentiveness, the energy should flow to the region of focus.

Sutra 47: Prayatna saithilya anantha sampattibhyam
Sutra 48: Tatah dvandvah anabhighatah

One thought on “What are Patanjali Yoga Sutras?

  • Since doing the retreat in Montreal, almost two years now, I have been studying how to do yoga practices in meditating. I continue to learn something every day and feel I am making progress (even if it is a snails pace). I do have a problem with Mantras though. My whole life, I have been hard of hearing and therefore trying to duplicate the sounds (especially if they have some complexity to them), Is very difficult. Sanskrit is a whole new Ballgame for me. When I was a child, Up until I had a speech therapist teach me the English language sounds, no one could understand me.
    I now understand the importance of producing the proper vibrations while meditating so as to help me with my progress.
    Is there something I can do to rectify this problem of mine. I live in a Northern Ontario, Canada community where Yoga is practiced however I don’t know of anyone with my passion to develope myself in God’s light.

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