Posts Tagged ‘yoga sutras’


Monday, June 3rd, 2013
As a part of the 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training at Karuna, students spend a great deal of time developing their practice of Svadhyaya, or self reflection, by reading various scripture and writings. The primary text used throughout the course is The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The following is based on a meditation on the second sutra of this text submitted by Kitty Troger, a current trainee in the program.
Given the definitions of Yoga as chitti-vritti-nirodhah in Patanjali’s Sutra 1.2, how does the way you do yoga challenge the way you think and feel? How does the way you thinkand feel challenge the way you do yoga? Discuss and be succinct.
Yoga challenges us to calm the mental noise that results from sensory
stimulation. We often confuse this mental noise with who we are, but it is only a
reflection of the perceptions, thoughts, and feelings that we have gathered over
the course of our human experience. Yoga is a way of being, a way of quieting all
of the preconceptions that we have developed, thus allowing us to see the world
with new and unfiltered eyes.
This is difficult for us because, like all creatures, we rely on sensory input and
experience to develop our view of the world. However, all of these accumulated
“truths” actually blind us to the underlying reality of the world and the natural
essence that is our selves. If we could only maintain the inquisitive senses of a
child, untainted by society, culture, and other learned behavioral modifiers. The
art of yoga is regaining our connection with the pure essence from which we
arose from the ether into being.
Once we realize our connectivity to this pure essence, the truth we were
searching for becomes self-evident. Yoga is the process of removing the
experiential programming from our minds, inevitably bringing us into unity with
the ultimate reality. At the end we emerge, as if from a chrysalis, fresh and
renewed, no longer searching and instead simply being. At that point we realize
the perfect bliss of living, living in the moments that have surrounded us all along.
This is the power of Yoga.

Pranayama: Removing the Veil, Sutra 2.52

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Inspired by the Pranayama Sutra below translated by B.K.S. Iyengar:

Sutra 2.52: Tatah kisyate prakasavaranam

Pranayama removes the veil covering the light of knowledge and heralds the dawn of wisdom.

Its practice destroys illusion, consisting of ignorance, desire, and delusion which obscure the intelligence; and allows the inner light of wisdom to shine.  As the breeze disperses the clouds that cover the sun, pranayama wafts away the clouds that hide the light of intelligence.

In the Yoga Chudamani Upanisad it is said that there is no discipline higher than pranayama.  It is called an exhalted knowledge (mahavidya), a royal road to well-being, freedom and bliss.

Kerry Doyle, Yoga Advanced Teacher Trainee

I think pranayama practice is really a practice about being intimate with yourself and with the essence of life.  I often begin the practice and am aware of a lot of tension or holdings and it takes working through each breath to disentangle.   Each inhalation teaches me about being receptive to life and each exhalation about letting go, letting go, letting go.  In one of the sutra commentaries in Edwin’s book, he talks about the yogi needing to be as sensitive as an eyeball.  I find this is really true in pranayama – the subtle shifts are hugely profound.  Our culture often focuses on working harder to achieve more – or that more is better.  In pranayama it’s an interesting practice to find that to draw in a deep inhalation comes from staying relaxed, slowing down – not gulping and not forcing.   In my practice sometimes I just have such simple intentions – can I take just one breath without tensing the throat?  Or can I inhale and keep the eyes soft?  What surprises me is how very difficult this can be for me to do and at the same time what a deep effect it has when I can just follow such simple intentions for even one breathe.   The pranayama practice gets right to the energy body – sort of strips it all down and digs right in.  In meditation, an instruction I’ve often been taught is to work with dropping the storyline and returning to the energy body/the sensations.  Pranayama practice puts me directly in touch with the sensations of the body – it skips that step of putting up the obstacle of the storyline – and puts me directly in touch with the raw experience.  When I can experience life in that way, it feels more possible to let life flow through me and around me without trying to hold onto it or push it away.

Sutra 2.52 –  Then, the covering of the illumination [of knowledge] is weakened.

Edwin begins his commentary stating, “Prakasa, illumination… a synonym for sattva.  The covering of illumination, prakasa-avarana, says Vyasa, is ultimately karma, and this is destroyed by the practice of pranayama.”

It strikes me as how remarkably difficult it is to do such a basic thing as inhaling and exhaling without adding something more to it.  And what an important life lesson – it’s the very foundation for taking the self/the ego out of all of our actions. Karma is accumulated when we mistake our thoughts, actions, feelings for the self.  Pranayama gives me a tool for learning how to loosen that grip of the ego on such a fundamental act of life as breathing – and from that a glimpse into what is possible in the rest of life.  When I practice I feel held by some greater force, aware of a union to something bigger than my small sense of self.  Pranayama helps dissolve the concept of a separate self by putting me in touch with that connection – and what’s incredible is how this can happen in just one breathe!

Poem written in response to Yoga Sutras 1.12-1.15

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012


  • Sutra 1.12: abhyasa vairagyabhyam tan nirodhah
    [The vrtti states of mind] are stilled by practice and dispassion
  • Sutra 1.13: tatra sthitau yatno ‘bhysah
    From these, practice is the effort to be fixed in concentrating the mind
  • Sutra 1.14:  sa tu dirgha-kala-nairantarya-satkarasevito drdha-bhumih
    Practice becomes firmly established when it has been cultivated uninterruptedly and with devotion over a prolonged period of time.
  • Sutra 1.15:  drstanusravika-visaya-vitrsnasya vasikara-samjna vairagyam
  • Dispassion is the controlled consciousness of one who is without craving for sense objects, whether these are actually perceived or described [in scripture] Defines what dispassion is

Poem written by Chris Hamel: 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Student 2011

Finding Rest

I’m pretty sure
You can’t hope to rest
until it’s hopeless,
I’m pretty sure
You can’t find peace
until you don’t need it anymore.

Now I might be wrong,
but I’m pretty sure
The more desperate you
The more love longs to find you,
and tuck you in,
And once you’re totally
The sheets are pulled tight,
and finally,
you can sleep at last. (more…)