Yoga Sutras: the foundation of classical Yoga philosophy
Hello, my friend! If you are reading this post, it means you are already practicing yoga or planning to start. You are probably already familiar with the positive effects of the practice on your body, mind, and spirit. But now rather than focusing on the yoga practice, I would like to talk about the philosophical system of classical yoga.
Sometime between 500 BCE and 400 CE the sage from India Patanjali synthesized and organized knowledge about yoga from older traditions, thus Yoga Sutras were created. “Sutra” from Sanskrit means an aphorism, a form of ancient and medieval Indian texts. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is the most translated ancient Indian text and is one of the foundational texts of classical Yoga philosophy.
The Yoga Sutras consists of 196 Sanskrit sutras that are divided into four chapters.
- The first chapter (sutras 1-51) describes what yoga is and what it is for, describes the modifications of the mind, methods of concentration, and the various stages on the path to achieving samadhi (the highest state of mental concentration).
- The second chapter (sutras 52-106) describes the means and obstacles on the path of yoga, indicates the difference between the perceiver and the perceived.
- The third chapter (Sutras 107-162) talks about the enlightenment, gradually coming as a result of yoga, as well as about the various abilities that a yogi acquires.
- The fourth chapter (sutras 163-196) speaks of the final liberation from everything that previously kept a person from full knowledge and the power of his inner nature.
The Yoga Sutras also describes the eight limbs (components) of yoga (Ashtanga), which include:
- yama (abstinences),
- niyama (observances),
- asana (yoga postures),
- pranayama (breath control),
- pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses),
- dharana (concentration),
- dhyana (meditation),
- samadhi (absorption).
In modern yoga, only a few components of classical yoga are being practiced by people - postures, meditation, breath control. As you can see, yoga is much more than that and embraces other components.
I am planning to publish posts on Yoga Sutras with some description and explanation so that we can go deeper into the foundation of the amazing ancient Yoga practice.