The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Several years ago I decided that it was about time that I read the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. I was well into my fourth decade as a yoga practitioner and somehow I’d managedto skirt any serious study of the Old Sage.

I thought that Yoga Suits Her would suit a sort of online self-study forum for me and my readers as well. Each night for 9 months I sat down at my computer and worked my way through all 196 sutra. I relied on the wise interpretations of teachers, such as by Georg Feurerstein, B.K.S. Iyengar and T.K.V. Desikachar. But more importantly, I wove in my everyday experiences to make the sutra relevant to me and others.

It was a sort of dusting off of the old text, and hopefully ‘with all due respect.’  Here they are!

A Sutra a Day: Sutra I-1 Blessings on a Beginning

A Sutra a Day: Sutra I-1 Blessings on a Beginning

If Patanjali were alive during this age of the internet, would he have succumbed to blogging?
And, if so, would he have ended up being as pithy in his writing?
Would readers want to spend days/weeks/months unraveling each of his sutra?
Or, would readers, sensing it would be hard work, just want to move on to a YouTube video or MP3 file?
These questions are uppermost in my mind because today I am introducing a new format into “Yoga Suits Her”: a look at The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali.
Perhaps I can be like blogger Julie Powell of “Julie and […]

A Sutra a Day: I-2 The Power of Mind

A Sutra a Day: I-2 The Power of Mind

Some people think that just because my job title is yoga teacher that I have awesome power over my mind. It’s what makes me self-disciplined. In psychology, this is supposition is called projection. “It’s easy for you,” is what they say. My husband, Daniel, emailed me the above image with the subject heading, “I saw this and thought of you.”
This is what I mean. To be fair, I project onto Daniel; he is my computer guru. If he doesn’t know the answer, either no one does, or he will find out.
We humans are funny beings. […]

A Sutra a Day: Sutra I-3 New Directions

A Sutra a Day: Sutra I-3 New Directions

The Inner World
There’s a moment at the end of a yoga class when the students have placed themselves in savasana and have settled down to relax. Stillness gradually begins to fill the space. It doesn’t always happen. But when it does, it’s like a tumbler clicking in a lock, and the door to an inner world may begin to open.
Finding Balance With the Outer World
Of course, there is plenty of evidence for the opposite happening in savasana: noise. I used to teach lunchtime classes in the soundproof radio studio at SBS in Sydney. […]

Big Questions Sutra – I-4

Big Questions Sutra – I-4

I have a friend who is doing SEO research relating to the topic of meditation; she was surprised to discover that huge numbers of people google “Why am I here?”
I get that. It’s a pretty fundamental question, but probably not one that arises often, unless one is of a philosophical bent, depressed, a spiritual seeker, or at a crossroads in life.
Another friend of mine has been searching for how to express his purpose in life and not been altogether successful to date. […]

Saturday Night Yoga Practice – Sutra I-6

Saturday Night Yoga Practice – Sutra I-6

What are you doing on tonight, Saturday night? Going out for dinner, dancing, partying, at home recovering from the week, watching one screen or another?
Obviously, I’m seated at my mac, writing a post. I imagine I hear you murmuring to yourself , my god, she needs a life.
I used to have the life of an oftentimes wilder version of myself. In my thirties, I lived in New York, worked as a flight attendant, and par-teed. […]

Perchance to Dream? Sutra – I-10

Perchance to Dream? Sutra – I-10

I am many, many times blessed at this time in my life for having unbroken, deep sleep almost every night.
Maybe my time is coming as I hear of huge numbers of seniors not sleeping well, and the problem worsening as they age.
There’s a hormonal reason for having difficulty sleeping at night that relates to melatonin and growth hormones production decreasing with age.
Less melatonin has many older adults feel sleepy in the early evening and wake up in the early morning. […]

Memory = Our Own Textbook – Sutra I-11

Memory = Our Own Textbook – Sutra I-11

One of the reasons students give sometimes for not practicing yoga at home is that they can’t remember the poses and/or the sequence that they fit in.
The original yogis – the ones who were reputed to dwell in forests and caves – were experimenters and not too worried about poses and sequences. Their interest was in the mind and consciousness, but modern yogis, we’re mainly, or at least that’s where we begin,
Memory can be a blessing and a curse. […]

A Sutra a Day: I-13 – What Matters

A Sutra a Day: I-13 – What Matters

A friend and colleague has said that, rather than practising yoga to achieve a perfect posture, we should be aiming to be nicer people.
As simplistic as that sounds, it’s not simple.
The loftiest goal that I have for myself is to live life in love, i.e., to be a loving person. The trouble with having a high aim is that it makes an annoying foil for all opposing qualities. […]

A Sutra A Day: I-14 – Do Practice and All is Coming

A Sutra A Day: I-14 – Do Practice and All is Coming

I’m sometimes embarrassed to say that I do weights workouts a couple of times a week. I guess I perceive that, in the yoga world, the tools of the practice are meant to cater to the care and keeping of our body/minds on every level. We don’t necessarily need the gym.
I suppose if I did enough handstands, forearm balances, dog poses, and chaturangas, those poses would make my bones healthy and strong. But I don’t do them a lot. […]

A Sutra a Day: I-15 – Detachment Begins At Home

A Sutra a Day: I-15 – Detachment Begins At Home

A strange thing happened this morning, a disturbing thing for me.
Yesterday we had a house guest who was travelling north to Queensland and wanted accommodation overnight. After her arrival, we shared a meal, chatted, and then I set her up in a comfy bed. I suggested breakfast and a beach walk the next morning before she had to continue her drive.
After my early morning yoga practice, I headed off to make breakfast for us and discovered a good-by letter from our guest on the kitchen bench top. […]

A Sutra a Day: I-16 – To Prop or Not to Prop

A Sutra a Day: I-16 – To Prop or Not to Prop

The air this morning was clean, fresh and cool from last night’s gentle showers.  A good time, I thought for practising pranayama.
I thought of another goal when I went out to the Yoga Shed to practice. I wanted to incorporate the poses that I will teach in one of the sessions of the Byron Yoga Therapy Course next week.
You’d know if you’ve ever been to my yoga classes that I get students to use props for almost every pose. […]

A Sutra a Day: I-17 – Music of the Mat

A Sutra a Day: I-17 – Music of the Mat

In 1979, the incomparable violinist, Isaac Stern, travelled to China to give concerts and master classes. The Academy Award-winning film – From Mao to Mozart – is based on Stern’s experience of performing and teaching in China.
For Stern the biggest disappointment of the his visit to China was that the musicians, while technically adept, played mechanically and without feeling. […]

A Sutra a Day: I-18 – Busy Doing Nothing

A Sutra a Day: I-18 – Busy Doing Nothing

Sitting by the fire on a wet Sunday afternoon, I’m glad for the portability of this iPad that lets me communicate to the world in comfort wherever I like.
It’s a quiet winter day here on our Mitchells Island property. Perhaps as a consequence of the peace all around – i.e., the phone hasn’t rung, there’s no music playing, Daniel is at his desk doing our books – my head is empty of anecdotes or wisdom to share.
Part of me is mentally leaning towards Byron Bay where the Yoga Therapy course is just kicking off today. […]

A Sutra a Day: I-19 – Perplexing Patanjali

A Sutra a Day: I-19 – Perplexing Patanjali

It’s late and I’ve delayed posting tonight, not sure whether I should go east, west, north or south with my writing. I’ve looked into Patanjali and tried to scry the meaning of a sutra that seems as elusive as the track Venus will make across the sun in a day or two.
I suppose this is all right…to not have it figured out. This sutra is in the first chapter which is about samadhi, a state I have not experienced. This sutra references re- incarnation which I can’t quite align with. […]

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