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: IV-19 – Blinded by Science

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In studying today’s message from Patanjali (as below), it seemed to lend itself well to a phenomenon to which we all fall prey – even esteemed and supposedly detached scientists – so I decided to ask my husband in as a guest blogger to describe it. So here’s Daniel:
I found this definition of science on a website:

“Science is a way of understanding the world, not a mountain of facts. Before anyone can truly understand scientific information, they must know how science works. […]

A Sutra a Day: IV-20 – Finding Serenity Against the Odds

A Sutra a Day: IV-20 – Finding Serenity Against the Odds

Do you keep diaries? I did for many years. I filled up many of those blank page books; they were like my portable and private therapists, a written record of ruminations and attempts to sort feelings. I suppose you could say blogging is a modern day, more focussed way of diarising.
I came across one of my old books by accident today. (I burned a lot of the old diaries because I sorely needed to move on from past traumas.) This particular book is special. […]

A Sutra a Day: IV-21 – Mind-stuff Watching Itself

A Sutra a Day: IV-21 – Mind-stuff Watching Itself

Okay I’ve run out of steam. I can’t think of a single anecdote from my life that will illustrate the Sutra of the day. I can’t even think of anything in my experience that will even obliquely describe today’s Sutra.
However, Chip Hartranft will save the day with this great explanation of the distinction between awareness and consciousness, which has been the theme of Chapter IV with its Sutra being all about freedom. […]

A Sutra a Day: IV-24 – The Best Part of Ourselves

A Sutra a Day: IV-24 – The Best Part of Ourselves

In the early part of my life, I alternated between being a very good girl and a bit of a hell-raiser. I do have a few regrets, but I did manage to create some vivid memories along the way, as well as some great accomplishments.
I would say that the thing that tempered my tempestuous side was partly the discovery of yoga, but even more so becoming part of a wholesome community.
There has been a kind of evolution in my involvement with various communities. […]

A Sutra a Day: IV-25 – Finding Your Way Home

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Over the years I’ve developed a deep love and appreciation for yoga. Sometimes I joke and say that it’s the longest relationship I’ve ever had.
In the beginning I did yoga to help me lose weight after a pregnancy and to keep fit. I discovered I was good at doing the asanas so that gave me an ego boost and led me to do yoga teacher training. […]

A Sutra a Day: IV-26 – The Force of Freedom

A Sutra a Day: IV-26 – The Force of Freedom

Is wanting a bad thing? Should we be without desires? If we covet something we don’t have, aren’t we incomplete in some way?
For many years, my greatest longing was for a perfect relationship with a perfect man. You must know how badly that turned out! When I was able to be with a partner (Daniel) and accept him the way he was, things went better.
When I took up yoga, I was drawn to something in it – I couldn’t have told you what. Nevertheless, I kept being pulled forward. […]

A Sutra a Day: IV-27 – Those Pesky Psychic Grooves (grinding out the same old tune)

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Have you run across the idea that your yoga mat can act as your therapist? I know on one level that sounds facetious, but think about it. You put yourself on your mat routinely and, each time you do, it’s an opportunity for you to watch your behaviour.
What are your responses as you practice. […]

A Sutra a Day: IV-28 – Valentine's Every Day

A Sutra a Day: IV-28 – Valentine's Every Day

Illustration by Gretta Kool
By the time some of you read this post, you may already be in trouble. Did you remember that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and did you plan accordingly? Gifts of flowers, chocolates, sweet and sincere cards are expected by many people. Like all expectations, if you don’t meet them, you may be up a creek.
To put this love holiday in perspective, it’s an American import to Australia, much like Halloween. […]

A Sutra a Day: IV-29 – After Rain, Radiance

A Sutra a Day: IV-29 – After Rain, Radiance

 
Today is weather-perfection where we live on the magical mid-north coast… Mitchells Island, New South Wales.
I think you know what I mean by perfect conditions. (If you are snowed in in Vermont or Toronto, well, winter has it’s own beauty, doesn’t it?)
During the day today it’s been 24 degrees celsius, with a light breeze and mid-range humidity. Best of all, it rained last night, just enough so all the vegetation in our gardens spread its wings in the morning sunshine. […]

A Sutra a Day: IV-31 – "All is Known and Nothing is Known"

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Have you ever heard of an exercise that’s done in personal development courses called “If you really knew me….”? It’s designed to create a greater depth of intimacy among the members of the group by sharing something of a personal nature. By opening up about a subject where there’s been fear or embarrassment attached to it, the speaker has an opportunity to let go and move on. […]

A Sutra a Day: IV-32 – A Balancing Act

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Yoga philosophy has a handy way to categorise elements of the material world. In Sanskrit there are three forces called gunas: tamas, which exhibits qualities of darkness, inertia, or heaviness; rajas, which equates with raw energy, passion, dynamism; and, sattva, which is defined as Being, clarity, or spiritual essence.
Objects can be characterised according to the above scheme, and so can human moods and personalities.
Think about it. At times you’ve probably felt yourself in a heavy mood, like a dark cloud is hanging over you (tamasic). […]

A Sutra a Day: IV-33 – Tiny Instants of Time Add Up

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For some reason, maybe because of teaching some workshops on ‘How to Work with Older Students’, I seem to be preoccupied with ageing. It may be because I am, er… getting on myself.
A newsletter landed in my email today from my friend and colleague Maggi, who was writing about ‘Age and Attitude’. She says,
‘I have a bad attitude to ageing. […]

A Sutra a Day: IV-34 – Here Ends the Sutra of Patanjali

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I’ve not been well today. A stomach complaint – severe cramping and slight nausea. Perhaps a dose of gastro or food poisoning? It could have been to do cleaning out a big mucky garden pot. Maybe something that is meant to live outside got inside me.
So here I am, all alone at home, while everyone in our household has gone to choir practice. I truly can’t remember having an evening alone for yonks. It’s exceptionally nice.
And, this is a special night too… […]

A Sutra a Day: The Prize – Holistic Yoga

A Sutra a Day: The Prize – Holistic Yoga

Do you ever set off on a journey not knowing exactly where you’ll end up? Even when you embark on a what you think is a certain path, you still may not arrive at your imagined destination.
That can be a good outcome, a bad one, or simply what is.
When I started interacting with Patanjali on this blog – teasing out each of his tightly packed Sutra – I did it as an exercise in discipline. […]

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