Here’s another post about the philosophy of yoga. Today I want to talk to you about The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, one of the foundational texts of the yoga philosophy.

tl;dr: Patanjali wrote a book to explain what yoga is and it’s not much to do with the postures.

It’s a collection of 196 short sentences, about 1200 words in total, that were written over 2000 years ago. Before this text, yoga existed but as a tradition that was passed down orally. We’re guessing that Patajanli (of whom we don’t know much) wanted to create a text that summed up the philosophy.
The sutras are very curt and not easily understandable, to say the least. Patanjali wasn’t trying to make poetry, they had a mission to do: explain what yoga is, in a way that’s easy to remember and pass down.

Many translations and commentaries have been written and it’s through these commentaries that we can start to understand and study the meaning of the sutras. Some people have devoted their life work to studying the sutras and I find it quite beautiful that Patanjali managed to create a text so rich and deep with 1200 words. It’s also incredible that the philosophy described in this text is basically timeless. We can still very much relate to these teachings.

I just want to share with you the two first sutras:

Atha yoganushasanam

“Now begins the study of yoga.”

Yogas citta vrtti nirodha

“Yoga is the stilling of the churnings of the mind.”

The second sutra really says it all, it’s the heart of yoga. Yoga is not managing to do a handstand or bending your body into a pretzel shape. Yoga is the stilling of the vrttis, the pesky thoughts that prevent us from accessing our true, blissful nature.

I’ll go a little more into how this works in the next post. Bear with me!