Chitta Vritti Nirodha

“Yogas chitta vritti nirodha”, says Patanjali, the author of Yoga Sutra. It is a line that I learned from the first yoga teacher training class at Tirisula. Master Sree says “chitta” means consciousness, “vritti” means thoughts, and “nirodha” refers to removal; therefore the essence of yoga philosophy is about the “removal of consciousness and thoughts from mind”. 

The idea of yoga being stilling the mind to experience ultimate reality and move toward self-realization did daunt me at the outset, because it questioned my original understanding of doing yoga, which is about perfectly performing challenging asanas. And quitting all the thoughts and the thoughts haven’t reached the mind? That sounded even more impossible — how could one remove the fluctuations of the mind because the mind is always thinking. 

But, frankly speaking, aren’t depression, frustration, and irritation all deriving from mind fluctuations? For example, sometimes, people might focus too much on one thought, or be occupied with too many thoughts at the same time — those moments are terrible. So, if one could deactivate intellect while still being fully conscious, then it means they could experience life through the clearest of lenses which are not colored by thoughts of good or bad, or mine or yours, then they can be experiencing mental peace.  

By realizing the state of “chitta vritti nirodha” could help one reach mental calmness, I started to find yoga is even more intriguing than I thought.