A couple of years ago I was inspired to study the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. I blame Michael de Manicor of the Yoga Institute for giving me the necessary prod. I heard him speak at a Yoga Australia conference, and Michael’s talk enrolled me in finally having a look at the Old Sage’s writing.
I had tried to study Patanjali a few times over the course of several decades. I collected a number of commentaries, mostly unread, along the way. I decided to take a drastic step. I declared one day on this very blog that I would present a-sutra-a-day to my audience until I’d investigated all 196 sutras.
It was painstaking work researching my collection of 8 Patanjali commentaries, as well as the internet, on a daily basis. I’d set myself the goal of interacting with every Sutra, that is, I would attempt to see what relevance each one might have to my ordinary life.
On occasions, it seemed as difficult as putting toothpaste back into a tube to understand a particular Sutra and then relate it in any meaningful way to my life. I’d stare at an empty page on my computer screen until something came to me, sometimes not until midnight. But I rarely missed a night.
Was it all worth it? You bet. Michael was right. There’s a wealth of wisdom in Patanjali’s Sutra and we yogis should read and ponder and interact with the words and practices.
Recently I had cause to go back and review the ‘A Sutra a Day’ posts. Sandy Edwards, creative producer of ArtHere, presented me with a book she had produced for my 70th birthday. It’s called The Wisdom of Eve and comprises the ‘best of’ my Sutra blog posts, plus photos of students I’ve taught over the years. Like the aphorisms, my writing has held up well and provides a good foil for Patanjali’s Sutra.
If you’re game, I recommend that you take up reading any one of the array of Sutra books available in hard copies. Digital books are portable and convenient, but can’t beat physically thumbing through a text, writing in the margins and using bookmarks.
Patanjali might be unusual summer reading for you but his writing is likely to stay with you longer than the latest bestseller. (Not that reading novels and Sutra are mutually exclusive….)
I recommend Matthew Remski’s Threads of Yoga: A Remix of Patanjali-s Sutras with Commentary and Reverie for a fresh take on the Ancient Sage.