Philosophy – Yoga Sutra

A review of the Yoga Sutra

If you have attended any yoga classes or courses, you have probably heard about the Yoga Sutras. I’m not so familiar with the text so her is a short review!

Acording to Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati Yoga means union & sutra means thread: Yoga means union of the parts of ourselves, which were never divided in the first place. Yoga literally means to yoke, from the root yuj, which means to join; it is the same as the absorption in the state of samadhi. Sutra means thread, and this thread, or multiple threads, weave a tapestry of insight and direct experience. Some say that the name of the text uses the word sutra in its plural form, as Yoga Sutras, in that each of the sutras, or threads, comes together to form a complete tapestry. Others say that it is used in its singular form, as Yoga Sutra, in that there is one, consistent thread that flows through the entire text. Both views add a useful perspective to the process being described. In the writings on this website, both terms are intentionally used.

Referred to Wikipedia The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali are 196 Indian sutras. The Yoga Sutras were compiled around 400 CE by Sage Patanjali, taking materials about yoga from older traditions.

There have been much discussion around who Patanjali was and when he lived but the conclusion today is that we don’t really know the exact time or who he was or when he wrote the text.

According to Wikipedia Patañjali divided his Yoga Sutras into four chapters or books (Sanskrit pada), containing in all 196 aphorisms, divided as follows:

Samadhi Pada (51 sutras): Samadhi refers to a blissful state where the yogi is absorbed into the One. Samadhi is the main technique the yogin learns by which to dive into the depths of the mind to achieve Kaivalya. The author describes yoga and then the nature and the means to attaining samādhi. This chapter contains the famous definitional verse: “Yogaś citta-vritti-nirodhaḥ” (“Yoga is the restraint of mental modifications”)

Sadhana Pad (55 sutras). Sadhana is the Sanskrit word for “practice” or “discipline”. Here the author outlines two forms of Yoga: Kriya Yoga (Action Yoga) and Ashtanga Yoga (Eightfold or Eightlimbed Yoga).

Kriya Yoga is closely related to Karma Yoga, which is also expounded in Chapter 3 of the Bhagavad Gita, where Arjuna is encouraged by Krishna to act without attachment to the results or fruit of action and activity. It is the yoga of selfless action and service.

Ashtanga Yoga describes the eight limbs that together constitute Rāja Yoga.

The eight limbs of Ashatanga Yoga is:

  1. Yama
  2. Niyama
  3. Asana
  4. Pranayama
  5. Pratyahara
  6. Dharana
  7. Dhyana
  8. Samadhi

Vibhuti Pada (56 sutras). Vibhuti is the Sanskrit word for “power” or “manifestation”. ‘Supra-normal powers’ (Sanskrit: siddhi) are acquired by the practice of yoga. Combined simultaneous practice of Dhāraṇā, Dhyana and Samādhi is referred to as Samyama, and is considered a tool of achieving various perfections, or Siddhis. The temptation of these powers should be avoided and the attention should be fixed only on liberation. The purpose of using samadhi is not to gain siddhis but to achieve Kaivalya. Siddhis are but distractions from Kaivalaya and are to be discouraged. Siddhis are but maya, or illusion.

Kaivalya Pada (34 sutras): Kaivalya literally means “isolation”, but as used in the Sutras stands for emancipation, liberation and used interchangeably with moksha (liberation), which is the goal of yoga. The Kaivalya Pada describes the process of liberation and the reality of the transcendental ego.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are also sometimes referred to as “Raja Yoga” or the “Royal Yoga”.

Hope this gave you a better understanding of what the Yoga Sutras is 🙂

Namaste,

Kristine Flo