I’m looking forward to leading a Patanjali’s Sutra study group in the new year. From writing daily posts to the theme of ‘A Sutra a Day’ on this blog, I’ve wondered how it might be to interact in person with people who are interested how this philosophy fits with yoga practice and everyday life.
Concepts like ease and firmness (Sthira and Sukha) from Patanjali’s Sutra II:46 are useful as they can be applied more widely than just to asana practice. They can be extrapolated to living a balanced life.
The yoga precepts – Yama and Niyama – are commonsensical and are perhaps all that is required to live skilfully and joyfully.
In Patanjali’s Chapter III, the promise of perfect mastery – the fulfilment of pure awareness – is truly extraordinary powers:
- Anima – the faculty of reducing bodily volume
- Laghima – the possibility of reducing weight
- Mahima – the faculty of growth
- Prapti – the possibility of reaching all
- Prakamya – irresistible willpower that will let one overcome obstacles
- Vasitva – mastery over the body’s constituent elements and their source
- Isittva – control of materialisation or dematerialisation of elements
- Yatrakamavasayitva – the possibility of determining the nature of elements, that is, transmuting one into another
While I find it hard to imagine developing anything remotely resembling the above exceptional faculties, and I’m not sure I would want to, I keep grappling with Patanjali’s work because the earlier chapters have been helpful in my time on and off the yoga mat.
Perfect mastery of the five elements brings mastery of physical form, physical vigour, and freedom from physical constraint.*
*The Essence of Yoga – Reflections on the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, Bernard Bouanchaud.