The yoga sutras of Patanjali are a rich and contemplative arrangement of 196 sutras (aphorism) that challenge the reader to consider his/her own consciousness and understanding of what makes up reality.
I’m no expert on the Yoga Sutras but am drawn with intrigue towards the teachings as they are open to interpretation. I’ve decided to share my reflections on the sutras in a very accessible and open presentation. I hope everyone becomes curious to discuss and comment on what these sutra bring up in their understanding and experience.
Was Patanjali a magical sage? A group of philosophers? Half snake have man (really!)? Nobody really knows but the sutras are possibly as old as 400 CE (wiki). I’ve read that philosophers and authors in those times were rewarded and celebrated for removing even one syllable. So the sutras are dense with meaning. Sutras were traditionally chanted. A lot! In order for the student to memorize each one and meditate upon their meaning. As I have just began to delve into the yoga sutras of Patanjali I’m sure my understanding will change over time as I consider the teachings. I hope you will join my journey!
Patanjali’s yoga sutras make up the foundation of modern yoga practice and include the 8 limbs of ashtanga yoga which include; ethics (relations to others or yama), relations to oneself, posture (asana), freedom of breath (pranayama), freedom of the senses, focus, contemplation, and integration (the last 3 make up meditative practices). The sutras also touch on the patterned tensions of conscious and unconscious life with a goal of possibly unbinding oneself from these happenings. As there are many translations there comes many understandings of what Patanjali was recommending. There is no central authority on what the sutras really mean as they are basically void of an author. I believe the meaning of each sutra is relative to the reader and the culture that she/he is part of. How can we let ancient teachings benefit our modern lives?
This will be a long journey dissecting each sutra (potentially skipping a few). The beauty of philosophy is the teachings are open to contemplate. The practices there to experience. It is up to us to give them meaning.