Patanjali is featured in this quote: yoga is the practice of quieting the mind.

Patanjali as source

I wonder how many yoga teachers talk about the meaning of yoga in their classes. It’s taken me a long time to acknowledge the importance of doing this, and, to do it.

My reason for not communicating on this topic? Remarkably, I thought it wasn’t what people came for. They came for a workout, for relaxation, for community, but not for talking philosophy.

There’s another reason I’ve avoided talking about the meaning of yoga. I haven’t always understood it. It’s been a slippery edge for me. Sometimes I think I’ve got it, then it’s gone. 

As an older yogi, hopefully with a broader perspective now, I’m rethinking my approach. These days, there’s a plethora of styles of yoga, a profusion of teachers and trainings, and the huge popularity of yoga. Navigating the yoga scene seems, at times, like hacking one’s way through a thicket. It’s more important than ever to get back to the heart of the matter.

Read, chant, reflect

A few years ago, I decided it was time to study Patanjali. For many, he’s the source of the meaning of yoga. So, I read all of his 196 Yoga Sutras. I tried to figure out how they related to my daily life. And then, I wrote about the Sutras, one by one, for ‘Yoga Suits Her’. 

I can’t say absolutely that Patanjali, the old sage and writer of the Sutras, is the source of all things yogic. But, he does come across as smart and succinct. He says some good stuff and sets out some profound practices that we can follow to this day. 

Patanjali gets to the nub of the matter: the swirling, sometimes murky waters of our minds. He sets out the aim of yoga in the second Sutra of the first chapter. (Click here to see my spin on Sutra number two.) 

Lately, I’ve been focussing on just the first three Sutras, chapter one, chanting the Sanskrit words.  I feel a growing affection toward these particular aphorisms. They are becoming familiar to me.

The saying goes, you teach what you most need to learn. Maybe one day that slippery edge won’t be so slippy.