Yoga Sutras of Patanjali


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Schweig is a widely sought out lecturer, doctoral studies mentor and examiner in the US, Europe, Australia, and India. Additionally, Dr. Enroll in all four courses in this series to gain access to the Radical Practice Online Conference. A penetrating look into what is often referred to as the "metaphysical backdrop of classical yoga". Course Summary.

Students who take this course will learn about:. Course Outline. She states the text may have been composed at an earlier date given conflicting theories on how to date it, but latter dates are more commonly accepted by scholars. The Yoga Sutras are a composite of various traditions.

Course Summary

Patanjali begins his treatise by stating the purpose of his book in the first sutra, followed by defining the word "yoga" in his second sutra of Book 1: [27]. This terse definition hinges on the meaning of three Sanskrit terms. Yamas are ethical rules in Hinduism and can be thought of as moral imperatives.

Olivia Hsu Decodes Sutra 2.12: Learn How the Kleshas Can Boost Self-Awareness

The commentaries on these teachings of Patanjali state how and why each of the above self restraints help in the personal growth of an individual. For example, in verse II. The second component of Patanjali's Yoga path is called niyama, which includes virtuous habits, behaviors and observances the "dos". Asana is thus a posture that one can hold for a period of time, staying relaxed, steady, comfortable and motionless. Patanjali does not list any specific asana , except the terse suggestion, "posture one can hold with comfort and motionlessness".

The Bhasya commentary attached to the Sutras , now thought to be by Patanjali himself, [10] suggests twelve seated meditation postures: [52] Padmasana lotus , Virasana hero , Bhadrasana glorious , Svastikasana lucky mark , Dandasana staff , Sopasrayasana supported , Paryankasana bedstead , Krauncha-nishadasana seated heron , Hastanishadasana seated elephant , Ushtranishadasana seated camel , Samasansthanasana evenly balanced and Sthirasukhasana any motionless posture that is in accordance with one's pleasure.

After a desired posture has been achieved, verses II. Pratyahara is drawing within one's awareness. It is a process of retracting the sensory experience from external objects. It is a step of self extraction and abstraction. Pratyahara is not consciously closing one's eyes to the sensory world, it is consciously closing one's mind processes to the sensory world.

Pratyahara empowers one to stop being controlled by the external world, fetch one's attention to seek self-knowledge and experience the freedom innate in one's inner world. Pratyahara marks the transition of yoga experience from first four limbs that perfect external forms to last three limbs that perfect inner state, from outside to inside, from outer sphere of body to inner sphere of spirit.

Dharana as the sixth limb of yoga, is holding one's mind onto a particular inner state, subject or topic of one's mind. Dhyana is contemplating, reflecting on whatever Dharana has focused on. If in the sixth limb of yoga one focused on a personal deity, Dhyana is its contemplation. If the concentration was on one object, Dhyana is non-judgmental, non-presumptuous observation of that object. Dhyana is uninterrupted train of thought, current of cognition, flow of awareness.

Dhyana is integrally related to Dharana, one leads to other. Dharana is a state of mind, Dhyana the process of mind.

Dhyana is distinct from Dharana in that the meditator becomes actively engaged with its focus. Patanjali defines contemplation Dhyana as the mind process, where the mind is fixed on something, and then there is "a course of uniform modification of knowledge". Adi Shankara , in his commentary on Yoga Sutras , distinguishes Dhyana from Dharana, by explaining Dhyana as the yoga state when there is only the "stream of continuous thought about the object, uninterrupted by other thoughts of a different kind for the same object"; Dharana, states Shankara, is focussed on one object, but aware of its many aspects and ideas about the same object.

Shankara gives the example of a yogin in a state of dharana on morning sun may be aware of its brilliance, color and orbit; the yogin in dhyana state "contemplates on sun's orbit alone for example, without being interrupted by its color, brilliance or other related ideas", according to Trevor Leggett. Samadhi is oneness with the subject of meditation. There is no distinction, during the eighth limb of yoga, between the actor of meditation, the act of meditation and the subject of meditation. Samadhi is that spiritual state when one's mind is so absorbed in whatever it is contemplating on, that the mind loses the sense of its own identity.

The thinker, the thought process and the thought fuse with the subject of thought. There is only oneness, samadhi. Samadhi is of two kinds, [74] [web 1] with and without support of an object of meditation: [web 2]. According to Ian Whicher, the status of sananda and sasmita in Patanjali's system is a matter of dispute.

The explanations of the classical commentators on this point appear to be foreign to Patanjali's hierarchy of [ecstatic] states, and it seems unlikely that ananda and asmita should constitute independent levels of samadhi. Ian Whicher disagrees with Feuerstein, seeing ananda and asmita as later stages of nirvicara-samapatti. Vijnana Bikshu ca. Vijnana Bikshu regards joy ananda as a state that arises when the mind passes beyond the vicara stage.

The metaphysics of Patanjali is built on the same dualist foundation as the Samkhya school. The end of this bondage is called liberation, or moksha by both Yoga and Samkhya school of Hinduism. It further claims that this awareness is eternal, and once this awareness is achieved, a person cannot ever cease being aware; this is moksha , the soteriological goal in Hinduism. Book 3 of Patanjali's Yogasutra is dedicated to soteriological aspects of yoga philosophy.

Patanjali begins by stating that all limbs of yoga are necessary foundation to reaching the state of self-awareness, freedom and liberation. He refers to the three last limbs of yoga as sanyama , in verses III. The Yogasutras of Patanjali use the term Isvara in 11 verses: I. Ever since the Sutra's release, Hindu scholars have debated and commented on who or what is Isvara?

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The Yoga Sutras by Patañjali

These commentaries range from defining Isvara from a "personal god" to "special self" to "anything that has spiritual significance to the individual". The Yoga Sutras incorporated the teachings of many other Indian philosophical systems prevalent at the time. Samkhya and Yoga are thought to be two of the many schools of philosophy that originated over the centuries that had common roots in the non-Vedic cultures and traditions of India. The Vedanta - Sramana traditions, iconolatry and Vedic rituals can be identified with the Jnana marga, Bhakti marga and the Karma marga respectively that are outlined in the Bhagavad Gita.

The Yoga Sutras are built on a foundation of Samkhya philosophy, an orthodox Astika and atheistic Hindu system of dualism, and are generally seen as the practice while Samkhya is the theory. The Yoga Sutras diverge from early Samkhya by the addition of the principle of Isvara or God, as exemplified by Sutra 1. Scholars have presented different viewpoints on the relationship between Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and the teachings in Buddhist texts.

Ask a Yogi: What are Patanjali's Yoga Sutras?

Karel Werner writes, "Patanjali's system is unthinkable without Buddhism. Patanjali is neither a founder nor a leader of a new movement. The ingenuity of his [Patanjali's] achievement lies in the thoroughness and completeness with which all the important stages of Yoga practice and mental experiences are included in his scheme, and in their systematic presentation in a succinct treatise. Other scholars state there are differences between the teachings in the Yoga Sutras and those in Buddhist texts.

According to Barbara Miller, [] the difference between Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and teachings in Buddhist texts is, "In Samkhya and Yoga, as in Buddhism and Jainism, the most salient characteristic of existence is duhkha or suffering. According to Buddhism, the origin of suffering is desire; according to Yoga, it is the connection between the observer Purusha with the observed Prakrti. When one experiences a siddha, it is an indication that one has stilled the ordinary mind and is making progress. I don't think Shearer really understands this.

I could also take exception to his interpretation of some of the limbs of Patanjali's yoga, or express my appreciation of some of his insights. For example, I think his translation of shaucha sauca as "simplicity" instead of the usual "cleanliness" or "purity" is very agreeable. On the other hand, I could disagree with his interpretation of brahmacharya as something more than celibacy. I think brahmacharya means exactly that, celibacy. Or I could find his idea that pratyahara is akin to William Blake's "closing the doors of perception" p.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: The Book Of The Spiritual Man Audiobook

Note well that the sole purpose of Patanjali's yoga is liberation from the pair of opposites pleasure and pain that dominate our lives. The word "samadhi" the goal of yoga means both the highest level of meditation and something akin to the Buddhist "satori," or enlightenment. All of yoga is a means to this end. For anyone beginning their yoga practice this book can help, but it should be understood that reading this or any other translation and interpretation of Patanjali's yoga sutras is only the beginning and is actually worthless without the concomitant practice of yoga.


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If there would be only one single book that I could recommend to aspiring Yoginis and Yogis, it would be this peerless translation of and commentary on the classic text on Yoga! It is an exceptionally well researched work, full of insight and interesting references.


  • History of Patanjali.
  • A. Let good study bring handling knowhow;
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  • I find it particularly valuable in providing the historical context of interpre If there would be only one single book that I could recommend to aspiring Yoginis and Yogis, it would be this peerless translation of and commentary on the classic text on Yoga! I find it particularly valuable in providing the historical context of interpretations and commentators over the centuries. The one I got was a free or very cheap on Kindle, and is, therefore, probably not the best edition.

    However, the translation is the same, and is by Charles Johnston.

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    Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
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