Introduction to Patanjali’s yoga sutras

We are off to a great start with our practice on both Thursday and Saturday! We started with a guided meditation that led to a traditional definition of yoga–the stilling of the fluctuations of the heart-mind. As we moved through the poses we were conscious of our breathing, using our own bodies as a focal point for concentration. We finished with quietness and reflection.

For the first few months this year, I will be teaching from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. This is the classic guide to yoga, a series of brief statements about yoga that were collected hundreds of years ago. They include direction on living a moral and ethical life, breathing, yoga posture, concentration and meditation. It’s a challenging work, but I think that a basic understanding will add to our practice–especially those of us who are practicing mindful meditation. It’s been fun to recognize key concepts from the sutras in current research on mindfulness and meditation.

Below are the opening sutras from this last week’s class. Translation / interpretation by Muktunda Stiles.

1.1With great respect and love now the blessings of Yoga instruction are offered.

1.2 Yoga is experienced in that mind which has ceased to identify itself with its vacillating waves of perception.

1.3 When this happens, then the Seer is revealed, resting in its own essential nature and one realizes the True Self.

There’s a lot packed in those three lines. Next week we will look at those “vacillating waves of perception” and use our bodies to help quiet our minds.

 I look forward to our practice together.


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