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The Yoga Sutras

Patanjali’s “Yoga Sutra”

From this text and it's commentaries we can learn 'Purna Yoga Abhyasa'--the complete yoga practice.

This book, in 4 chapters written 2500 years ago by Patanjali, a sage and Samskrit grammarian is the probably the most significant text on Yoga. He compiled the yoga knowledge of his time (which may be more than 4000 years old) and organized it into a condensed wisdom, simply written in ‘threads’ or aphorisms in a ‘sutra’ writing style. The profound philosophical ideas in this form could be chanted, therefore memorized since most students of yoga didn’t have access to books or writings or may not have been literate. In this way the information was passed from teacher to student through the ages. The short pithy sutras are the ‘bare-bones’ of concepts and ideas. The style makes them difficult to completely understand so ancient teachers and enlightened sages (including Patanjali himself) added commentaries for their students. There are many ancient and modern texts of commentaries from which to find interpretations of Patanjali’s brief and powerful comments.

The sutras hold practical, down-to-earth suggestions about how we can best understand ourselves and how to live in harmony with others. These writings are not tenants of a religion, but describe a philosophy of life, and are amazingly just as relevant today as when they were written. Within the sutras are suggestions about how to gain "the ability to direct the mind without distraction or interruption- so we can live a focused and productive life"(Desikachar).

 When we think of yoga, we first imagine postures and perhaps breathing practices and meditation.  Patanjali has described the complete yoga practices that go beyond the yoga asanas on the mat, yogic breathing and meditation. Yoga as presented in this text is a whole lifestyle, a system of thought- a way to understand how to make good decisions and take responsible actions and to be happy in life. Taking action to be healthy, learn all about ourselves and improve the quality of our actions, will help us make fewer mistakes and be contented and peaceful. Patanjali’s describes the yogic idea that change is certain, but something deep within us is not subject to change. He helps us find that place within us that is peace and bliss. From there we can come back into the world behaving as our best selves, making the world a more peaceful and loving place
Kaliji’s commentaries are available on the TriYoga Kriya website. Some other modern commentaries are by T.K.S. Desikachar, Bramananda Svarasvati, Edwin Bryant, Frans Moors, Chip Hartranft, Georg Feuerstein, and many others. Ancient ones are by Vyasa, Vacaspati Mishra, Vinjnana Bhiksu. 

P.S. There is a fabulous Yoga Sutra class taught at the Davis Art Center by Ann Rogers. Check out their schedule.

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