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: II-27 – Intimacy & Authenticity

  I heard a sad story today about a middle-aged man named David Rakoff who died recently from cancer. Over the years, I enjoyed his comedy contributions to a podcast I listen to regularly called This American Life. What saddened me more than the fact of Rakoff’s death at a relatively young age was that he seemed to have been a tortured soul for much of his life. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-28 – Shedding Time

It’s diet time again in our household. If you knew me well, you’d know I don’t need to diet to lose weight, as my husband Daniel and my housemate Rick are attempting to do. However, we have just come through a week-long period of my step-son’s nuptial activities, followed by a week of showing my visiting sister-in-law Sydney-town and Mitchell Island. Food is intrinsic to festivities and socialising. And, often not wholesome food, unfortunately. So, today I got to have my food: fruit for breakfast, steamed vegetables for lunch, and fish, rice and salad for dinner. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-29 – 8 Limbs Lead to Freedom

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I’ve been interested in the big picture of yoga for many years. I’m talking about the way the system of yoga thoroughly considers all aspects of a person – you could say, human and even divine.
Tree of yoga is how the structure is described in that it is comprised of eight limbs, listed below.
As a budding yogini, in my twenties, I was only interested in the third limb – asana – the practice of postures. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-30 – A Guide to Good Behaviour

  Sometimes I feel like a bit of a freak in the yoga world and maybe in the world generally. Here are a few reasons why I might be classified as eccentric:I’m not a vegetarian. I love continental cakes. A glass of really good red wine is a special weekend treat. And, I drink 2 cups of coffee a day.I’m on the high side of my sixties and I’ve chosen to live like an ageing hippie with two other couples of my vintage.I love watching great television with brilliant writing. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-31 – Word of Honour

  My stepson married his fiancé two weeks ago and now they are celebrating a rather unusual honeymoon at the ‘art festival’ called Burning Man in the U.S. The couple put together their own vows, which I think all the wedding guests found inspiring to hear. Daniel and I repeat our wedding vows to each other on our anniversary; it’s our way of seeing how we are travelling in our relationship and also to recommit to our promises if we have wavered. I hadn’t thought about the word ‘vow’ for some time until I came across Patanjali’s Sutra II-31. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-32 – Spiritual Hunger

A Sutra a Day: II-32 – Spiritual Hunger

I’d be hard-pressed to tell you what I mean by the term spiritual. Maybe I mean soulful. Maybe I mean the stuff in my life that invisible but vital to my happiness. In defining the word, a distinction is often made between physical, material things and things of the spirit. That is such a broad umbrella that it’s almost impossible to hold it up. More confusion occurs when individuals talk about how they understand what spirit or spirituality is, and there is also such a wide range of experience we humans have. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-34 – Reversing Suffering

  I’ve been a member of a book club for a couple of years now. It’s the first one I’ve ever been a part of. I had high hopes. At our first meeting, we went around the table and everyone had a chance to say what they wanted to get out of belonging to the club. Over time, I’ve noticed that I haven’t gotten what I wanted – that is, more enjoyment of reading because of the synergy and stimulation of the group. […]

A Sutra a Day: II:35 – Vegging Out

A Sutra a Day: II:35 – Vegging Out

It’s hard for me, living in the country with so much wildlife around, to still be a meat eater. For instance, I had a meal of roast duck at the Chinese restaurant tonight, but then I had second thoughts, remembering the family of ducks that has lately been hanging out at our place. These ducks just go about their business, not bothering anybody or anything.
Our next door neighbour, Farmer Scott, raises beef cattle, and every year we see the wet-behind-the-ears calves toddling behind their mothers, too clumsily cute. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-36 – Telling Like it Is

  Do you have pet peeves? Really! Who doesn’t? I should know something about dealing with these sorts of annoyances, but, sadly, I don’t always live out of my wisdom, you know, my higher self. What I know is that if something gets under my skin it’s usually a thing that I’m ‘guilty’ of doing myself. Here’s how it goes: I get irritated when my husband (poor Daniel) says he’s going to do a thing and then he doesn’t. More often than not, he’ll get there in his own sweet time, but not in my time frame. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-37 – Non-Acquisitiveness

A Sutra a Day: II-37 – Non-Acquisitiveness

  Today was the day for the Yoga Aid fundraising event celebrated world-wide to raise money for various worthy causes. I just love these community happenings where everyone is drawn together with the best of intentions and that spirit is palpable. For my part, as one of a team of eight teachers presenting at Yoga Aid in Forster this morning, I was somewhat nervous. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-38 – Brahmacharya = Balance

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The ancient sage Patanjali comments on the topic of sexual energy in Sutra II:38, and his writing has been variously interpreted to recommend abstinence (Brahmacharya) – but also, moderation or continence.
I think it’s hardly imaginable that modern day humans could be expected to, or want to, practice complete abstinence from sexual activity.
My experience of sexual energy is that it is just another kind of energy. It’s possible to get carried away with it or be aware of and contain it. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-40 – Cleanliness Energises

A Sutra a Day: II-40 – Cleanliness Energises


Just a couple of weeks into this season, there’s still time to do your spring cleaning, that is, if you’re so inclined.
I was raised by a very squeaky-clean type of mother. My sister and I did a lot of the grunt work – basically taking our house apart – scouring, scrubbing, and sluicing it down, until there was a sheen and a shine on everything.
If you really knew me, you could see how this sort of upbringing has made spring cleaning anathema to me. I’ve rebelled against it for years until now. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-41 – Pure is as Pure Does

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I don’t know how you feel about it, but I’ve never really come to terms with the notion of having to make myself pure, although this is one of Patanjali’s precepts, called saucha in Sanskrit.
I was raised in Catholicism to believe that human beings were sinful, a state which is certainly impure. I would go to confession to tell the priest my impure thoughts and deeds, which had to be decidedly innocent as I was still a kid. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-42 – It is What it Is

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There are yoga concepts which people gravitate to more than others in the same way that we like certain star signs more than others, or colours, or authors.
The notion of santosa is one of these. Who wouldn’t be attracted to the idea of contentment?
It’s not easy, however, to be content. Some of us lean towards perfectionism (not mentioning any names here), which makes it difficult to be happy with the way life is in this moment. […]

A Sutra a Day II:43 – Gentle Discipline

A Sutra a Day II:43 – Gentle Discipline

The sunsets of recent weeks have been characterised by fiery reds and dramatic oranges. The burning-off of excess fuel throughout over countryside has created atmospheric conditions that will make a safer fire season, but in the meantime we’re all sporting smokey lungs.
In yoga, we fire up our practices to burn off bodily impurities accumulated over the winter. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-44 – Self-Exploration

A Sutra a Day: II-44 – Self-Exploration

When I began writing the “Yoga Suits Her” blog a few years ago, I chose the title because I liked the play on words, not because I intended studying Patanjali’s Sutra.
But, son of a gun, that’s where I’ve ended up. That wily Old Sage has reeled me in, and it’s been a good thing too. Patanjali recommends in Sutra II-44 self-study of the sacred texts, and here I am finally doing it – after 41 years involvement with yoga. […]

A Sutra a Day: II-45 – Sacred in the Ordinary

Source: via Katharine on Pinterest

Part of how we’re wired up as humans is that we are meaning-making machines. And part of how we create meaning in life is identifying with religion, God or a Higher Power.
Me, I avoid using the word spiritual or divine to describe myself. I guess I subscribe to the idea that if someone speaks of him/herself in that way that they are big-noting** themselves. […]

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