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-34 – Hearts and Minds

A Sutra a Day: III-34 – Hearts and Minds

I’ve spoken in earlier blog posts about the workshops that I’ve been involved in for two decades that are produced by the Human Awareness Institute. This last weekend Daniel and I were at one of these HAI workshop in the Hunter Valley.
What are they? I could describe them in various ways. The levels of the workshops have different themes, the first one is called ‘Love is a Miracle’. Level 2 is ‘Loving Yourself’ and the next level is ‘Living at Choice’. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-35 – Sneaking Up on the Perceiver

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We Westerners, having grabbed hold of yoga at the end of the 1800’s, have been in a slow process of moulding it into a size and shape to suit us. We tell ourselves that yoga is big enough to handle being refashioned, but, at the same time, there are plenty of discussions around regarding whether we are doing a good thing, or not.
In recent times the process of modifying this ancient system has quickened, and almost all of us are a part of it. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-36 – What is Real?

A Sutra a Day: III-36 – What is Real?

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I taught a class to an amazing conglomerate of students today. Of the eleven who presented, the age range went from early 20’s to mid-60’s and comprised various levels of ability. The 4 ‘youngsters’ had very little experience but youthful energy; the ‘older’ group had more experience but less verve, plus an accumulation of injuries and conditions – the ones that come with living longer.
My husband Daniel was missing from this session, his regular yoga class, as he is doing a Mindfulness Meditation course in Taree. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-37 – Best Yoga Practice for Your Stage & Age

A Sutra a Day: III-37 – Best Yoga Practice for Your Stage & Age

In Hindu traditional society, a yoga practitioner is meant to vary the practices he does according to the stage of life he’s in. We modern yogis would do well to consider such a template for living, as it would help us cover the bases for optimum spiritual development.
The four stages are called ashrama* in  Sanskrit, and they are: brahmacharya, grihastha, vanaprastha, and sannyasa.
The first stage includes youth/students from ages 8 to 25 years. This is when one is growing up and assimilating knowledge and values. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-38 – Responsible Teaching

A Sutra a Day: III-38 – Responsible Teaching

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Over the years, I’ve tried to sublimate my personality to my teaching. This hasn’t been an easy process as I like to be the centre of attention, and I know that especially in my early years of teaching, I had to overcome being a show-off.
Yoga teachers have a big responsibility to their students. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-39 – Levitation and More

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The Sutra of Patanjali are full of interesting constructs and concepts which might just be every bit as helpful in modern times as they were in ancient history.
For instance, Sukhasana and Sthira – ease and firmness – are reminders of how to balance our lives when we’re off the mat as well as on it.
Ten Yama and Niyama add up to a code of ethics that can help us sail through life in a skilful way.
Today’s sutra is a rather strange sounding one but it is better […]

A Sutra a Day: III-40 – Do You Diet?

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Opinions on what constitutes a good/perfect diet abound, not the least in the yoga world.
One diet that’s had a lot of press is the severely restricted calorie diet; it’s meant to promote long life, although it may limit your opportunities to socialise.
The low carb diet is popular around here because those pesky carbohydrates are reputed to stack weight on your body. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-42 – Lightness of Being

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The feeling of heaviness inhibits; the feeling of lightness confers great freedom… to make the changes and transformations that are indispensable to life.*
Here are a few things I’ve done at different times in my life to create the quality of lightness:
1. Emotional cleansing – you know those occasions when you bare your heart to a compassionate other and it enables you let go of guilt, negativity, judgment, righteousness and all those things that were weighing you down.
2. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-43 – Action & Reaction

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I’ve said things I regret saying. I’m not talking about ancient history. This is something that happened just yesterday. And, to someone to whom I profess love – my husband.
Do you know that feeling of wishing you could take back your words? The best thing you can do is to redeem the situation is say sorry, but the problem is the words have been said. They’ve disturbed the person’s aura. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-45 – What is the ‘Extra’ in Extraordinary?

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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. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-46 – Yoga Grace and Beauty

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Do you know people who radiate inner beauty? I do.
These are the individuals who may not have all their features arranged perfectly or be a perfect size 10. But you just want to be close to them and hang out with them; you hope a little of their light rubs off on you.
The good news is that, if you can see positive qualities in another person, you have the template within you for creating what you admire in them. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-47 – Uncommon Senses

A Sutra a Day: III-47 – Uncommon Senses

I live in a part of the world where a “sense feast” is presented to me every day. And since I am semi-retired, I mostly have time to linger over this repast.
I wake up to the sweet bell-like song of eastern rosellas and look across green meadows to see cattle grazing. These summer mornings are humid and languorous, with earthy odours rising from the vegetable patches. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-49 – Equilibrium

A Sutra a Day: III-49 – Equilibrium

A friend of ours has been a carer for her ex-husband for most of this last year. He passed away last week from terminal cancer and now she is putting herself back together. I have much admiration for her in being there for him, no matter what, even though the bonds of marriage between them had been severed for many years.
I think it’s one of the greatest challenges life throws up for us – to sit calmly with someone who’s health is slowly ebbing away.
I’ve done this twice. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-50 – There’s Freedom in Letting Go

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We had a little party today chez Scotts Road, Mitchells Island. It was a celebration of Rick’s and my birthdays and Mike and Judy’s homecoming, all rolled into one.
I looked around at all the attendees and felt an overwhelming sense of love and affection for the people we’ve gathered around us in the 3 years of living in the country. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-51 – More Than Enough

A Sutra a Day: III-51 – More Than Enough

 

I like to be the centre of attraction. Over the years, because I didn’t feel accomplished enough myself, I attached myself to several charismatic men so that I would get their reflected glory.
This vicarious way of living was never really satisfying and I never felt authentic, but I met some interesting people, had some fascinating adventures and collected some good stories.
I think it’s still the case that women are often attracted to strong, confident male yoga teachers, as I was. Is that a bad thing? I don’t know. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-53 – What's Happening Right Now

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When I was first learning  Iyengar yoga, the classes I attended were two hours long. I found the intensity of them overwhelming at times and would take myself off to the toilet a couple of times during the session, just to have a break.
The teacher, Martyn Jackson, had a booming voice and would exhort his students to do more, even though sometimes we were at our limits. Poses were held for long timings and repeated. […]

A Sutra a Day: III-54 – Cultivating Transparency

A Sutra a Day: III-54 – Cultivating Transparency

I learned a little science lesson while visiting New Zealand’s South Island glaciers. While the region’s scenery is often undeniably beautiful, I found the turquoise mountain lakes and streams to be altogether breathtaking. It’s difficult to drive from Point A to Point B without frequently stopping for photos and filming.
Interestingly, it’s not the clarity of a lake’s water that creates the special colour, but rather finely ground rock from the glaciers that’s suspended in it. The substance is called glacial rock flour, and it’s the scattering of light through the water that creates the turquoise colour. […]

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