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: III-14 – Recommended Reading

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I’ve been going along with my blog theme A Sutra a Day now for five months. Picture me every night sitting down at my messy desk, thumbing through up to eight Patanjali Sutra texts by various translator/commentators.
After reading each interpretation, I think about what I’ve read and then overlay a map of my life to see if there are any points of intersection. Sometimes I’m lucky and, bingo, the fit is serendipitous. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-15 – Vegie Dreaming

A Sutra a Day: III-15 – Vegie Dreaming

 

I’m a city girl, born and bred. But, I always dreamed about being able to grow my own foods in the country…one day.
I’m also a sort of a know-nothing about how to do this growing produce thing. Fortunately, I’ve had some pretty switched on people around me, notably Peter Nixon and my housemate Heather.
Peter has been trying to teach me to be a patient gardener, starting in a logical sequence with the all-important rich soil. He recommended we make our own soil through the no-dig method, easy-peasy, he seemed to say. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-16 – Not So Many Moons

A Sutra a Day: III-16 – Not So Many Moons

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Reading this weekend’s SMH newspaper, I came across some pieces in the  magazine section that related to longevity. Let me tell you, this subject becomes more and more interesting as I age.
Toward the end of this year, I will celebrate my 68th birthday. Like most sexagenarians, I have no idea how I accumulated that number of years. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-17 – Clean Slate Coming

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Recently I’ve been through a painful situation involving close friends. It would seem that difficulties arose because of miscommunications, faulty memories, and judgments.
Although the unresolved situation has just resurfaced, it has been going on for decades, so long that it would take a private investigator working for months to unravel what was said and what was done.
I tried to avoid the bad feelings I had been experiencing over the years by stuffing them down, and just getting on with ‘the rest of my life’. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-18 – More Unpacking Patanjali

A Sutra a Day: III-18 – More Unpacking Patanjali

It’s so very interesting to me – the way what I read or see or hear is open to wide interpretation when compared to others’ understanding, even when we’ve been exposed to the same phenomena. I guess part of what yoga offers us is a system that exposes the filters we have over what we consider our reliable organs of perception.
This is to be expected when we consider the social conditioning and heredity that varies so much among the 7 billion people on the planet. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-19 – What Does It Mean?

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I’ve had it in mind for years to write my life story. I suppose I lot of people have the idea of recording their memoirs. I actually did have a go at composing my story, but for the time being it remains just an inactive file in my computer.
I do have a first paragraph for you to read, though:

I don’t know how someone younger than 60 odd years can write about herself with any objectivity, and I’m not even saying that I can. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-20 – Dropping Assumptions

A Sutra a Day: III-20 – Dropping Assumptions

For part of my very early childhood years, my home was a dangerous place. Without going into details, there were often violent scenes. I learned a survival strategy which in psychological terms is called ‘hypervigilence’, and it carried over into my adult years.
I was adept at scanning my environment for perceived threats, whether they were sights, sounds, people, behaviours, or smells, and I would do this even when there was little likelihood of danger. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-21 – Invisibility: A Power or a Weakness?

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If you are a teacher, you may have had similar experiences to mine when I’ve tried to remember after a class I taught who had been in attendance.  When I’ve engaged in conversations with students as they were paying at the end of a class, I’d tend to forget to mark them off the role. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-23 – Strengthening a Quality

  I’ve been with Daniel, my husband, for 20 years now. We met in a workshop called ‘Love, Intimacy and Sexuality’, became friends, and fell in love. These workshops, organised through the Human Awareness Institute, are led by Americans, and the one that I attended had a married couple as facilitators. I’d come through years of difficult romantic relationships and was ready to learn how to have a successful one. I admired the facilitators’ relationship and, I’m a little embarrassed to admit, put them up on a pedestal. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-24 – Concentration as a Muscle

   Is it possible to think your way into being strong or flexible or healthy or kind or rich? Lord knows, wouldn’t we would like to think our way to being independently wealthy, handsome and adored? Or any number of other wishes to be granted. We might want be immortal or a perfect weight or successful in our careers. In this chapter of Patanjali’s Sutra on the cultivation of exceptional faculties, III-24 says that when one has perfect concentration on an elephant, for instance, one can gain physical strength. T.K.V. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-25 – The Heart's Ascendance

A Sutra a Day: III-25 – The Heart's Ascendance

Tonight I was part of what I would call a healing circle. Once a month my husband’s men’s group invites their partners to join them in one of their meetings. The structure of the night varies, but it seems that it always provides a place where we can come together to share deep feelings – some joyful, some soulful, some sad. It’s a safe haven where all emotions are welcome.
I’m always amazed how such profoundly transformational work can occur just by dint of careful listening and being with whatever is. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-26 – Sun Worship

A Sutra a Day: III-26 – Sun Worship

 What is it about the sun? It is the centre of our solar system, of course. But the sun is a big deal in so many cultures, systems, and media: mythology, religion, romance,music, literature, and art. In the Hindu tradition, the sun, surya, is one of the gods. Sun gods feature in ancient pantheons in Greece, Rome, Mexico, Peru, Egypt, and Persia, and countless more. Human beings will complement someone’s child, saying they have a sunny disposition. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-27 & 28 – Moon, Stars and Yoga

   In a city environment, you have to work hard to connect with Nature. For instance, I tried to stay in tune with the cycles of the moon when I lived in Sydney, but living in such a dense environment, I often found it hard to get even a glimpse of the sky. As a Nature exercise, I would try to observe the moon’s cycles and plan my yoga classes to fit in with the full moon, the new moon, and in-between moons. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-29 – Be Firm, Be Yielding

A Sutra a Day: III-29 – Be Firm, Be Yielding

I’ve been enjoying doing my yoga practice recently a la Vanda Scaravelli. She’s the Italian yoga teacher who created a style based on simple, natural principles of gravity and the breath.
Vanda wrote Awakening the Spine which is not so much an account of her particular form of yoga as a book of poetry and images.
Although Vanda died in 1999, Diane Long carries on with her work and message. I did a 5-day workshop with Diane and I must say I couldn’t figure out from the way she taught what she was on about. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-30 – Diet Freedom

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Tonight I was teaching the students some abdominal work . One area that gets stressed when people do abdominal exercises is the neck and throat. Have you experienced that yourself? I certainly have, and one antidote to release the neck and soften the throat is to keep the backs of the armpits engaged – as in squeezing in. The trapezium releases the shoulders and pressure is alleviated.
The throat is such an important part of one’s body. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-31 – Bridge to Serenity

A Sutra a Day: III-31 – Bridge to Serenity

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In the backbend ‘family of poses’, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)  has been dubbed ‘a boon to mankind’ by the yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar. Apart from its capacity to wake up the senses, Setu Bandha strengthens the legs and hips, massages the spine, and opens the heart.
Holding this pose offers an opportunity to explore the body and its movements with attention and care. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-32 – What is Intelligence?

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When I was in grammar school, it was common for students to submit to an IQ  test (Intellectual Quotient). I don’t know whether this is done any more, but I felt pretty proud of my score and didn’t mind telling others who asked what it was.
Those who didn’t score well didn’t confess their scores as readily. Was a high IQ a marker for success or happiness? I’m not sure it was.
In recent times, we read about different kinds of intelligence, as in emotional or social IQ. […]

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