Patanjali Yoga Sutras and Valid Reasons to Know Them

The Patanjali Yoga Sutras is a collection of Sanskrit sutras (aphorisms) on the theory and practice of yoga – 195 sutras (according to Vyasa and Krishnamacharya) and 196 sutras (according to other scholars including BKS Iyengar). Yoga is the control (nirodhah, regulation, channeling, mastery, integration, coordination, stilling, quieting, setting aside) of the modifications (gross and subtle thought patterns) of the mind field. However, sutra translates to “strand or thread.” Having great contribution and importance of Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Siddha Spirituality of Swami Hardas Life System also consider the subject Yoga Sutras vital for the well-being of humans.

Definition of Yoga Sutras

The Yoga Sutras are a collection of texts written by the sage, Patanjali, around 400 C.E. The collection contains what is thought to be much of the basis of classical yoga philosophy. The 196 sutras are compartmentalized into four topical books: Samadhi pada (what yoga is); Sadhana pada (how to gain a yogic state); Vibhuti pada (benefits of practicing yoga regularly); and Kaivalya pada (liberation or freedom from suffering).

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Sage Patanjali

What are Patanjali Yoga Sutras known for?

The Patanjali Yoga Sutras is best known for its reference to Ashtanga, eight elements of practice culminating in Samadhi, the concentration of the mind on an object of meditation, namely:

However, its main aim is kaivalya, discernment of Purusha, the witness-conscious, as separate from Prakriti, the cognitive apparatus, and disentanglement of Purusha from Prakriti’s muddled defilements.

Patanjali Yoga Sutras and valid reasons to know them

Here are a few reasons why we should know and believe Patanjali Yoga Sutra is so relevant and even necessary for today’s yoga practitioners and teachers:

To remind yourself of the true purpose of your practice

Yoga asana is a great way to increase your strength and flexibility, release stress, and improve your health—but that’s not all the practice is about. Patanjali systematically lays out the definition of yoga in the broadest sense—Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodhah, or “yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind”—and also tells us which mental states are not the state of yoga, as well as why we suffer, and what we can do about it. The Sutra offers a strategy for discovering the state of wholeness that already exists in us, and for how we can begin to understand and let go of our suffering. This, he reminds us, is the true aim of yoga.

To understand your barriers to happiness

Patanjali’s teachings help us to understand how our thoughts get in the way of our own happiness. They also show that the process of “disidentification” with our thoughts, aided by yoga practices, is the path to ending suffering.

To connect with the lineage of yoga

We are all a part of a proud lineage of yoga. Studying texts like the Sutra can help us to better understand the history and the traditions of yoga so that we can practice and teach from a more authentic place.

To build a lifelong practice

In the West, we’ve come to conflate yoga with a physical Asana practice, but the Yoga Sutra offers a broader view, reminding us that yoga practice is so much bigger. When we limit our understanding of yoga to Asana, we limit its ability to help people.

As we age, we may not be able to perform the intense physical practice. But by incorporating Asana, plus other yoga techniques, including meditation, pranayama, and intentional self-study, into our lives, we cultivate a deeper and more inclusive relationship with yoga that can transform all aspects of our lives.

To begin to live your yoga

Learning the Sutra isn’t just about putting Asana into the wider perspective of yoga, though. It’s also about looking at what it means to practice yoga within the context of life as a whole. Yoga is not only a practice but also a state of being. Patanjali provides us with guidelines for living a yogic life, including standards of ethics and self-conduct, so that we can know what it feels like to live and act in harmony and integrity with our highest values, even when we face difficulty. This may be the greatest gift of all.

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Patanjali Yoga Sutras

What is the base of Patanjali Yoga Sutras?

The Patanjali Yoga Sutras are built on Samkhya notions of Purusha and Prakriti. It is closely related to Buddhism, incorporating some of its terminologies. Yet, Samkhya, Yoga, Vedanta, Jainism, and Buddhism can be seen as representing different manifestations of a broad stream of ascetic traditions in ancient India.

Patanjali Yoga Sutras Author and Dating

Author of Patanjali Yoga Sutras

The colophons of manuscripts of the Yoga Sutras attribute the work to Patanjali. The identity of Patañjali has been the subject of academic debate because an author of the same name is credited with the authorship of the classic text on Sanskrit grammar named Mahābhāṣya which is firmly debatable to the second century BC.

Furthermore, before the time of Bhoja (11th century), no known text states that the authors were the same.

Dating of Patanjali Yoga Sutras

Philipp A. Maas

Philipp A. Maas assessed Patañjali’s Pātañjalayogaśāstra’s date to be about 400 CE, based on synchronisms between its arguments and those of Vasubandhu, on tracing the history of the commentaries on it published in the first millennium CE, on the opinions of earlier Sanskrit commentators, on the testimony of manuscript colophons and on a review of extant literature. This dating for the Pātañjalayogaśāstra was proposed as early as 1914 by Woods and has been accepted widely by academic scholars of the history of Indian philosophical thought.

Edwin Bryant

Edwin Bryant, on the other hand, surveyed the major commentators in his translation of the Yoga Sūtras. He observed that “Most scholars date the text shortly after the turn of the Common Era (circa first to the second century), but that it has been placed as early as several centuries before that.” Bryant concluded that “A number of scholars have dated the Yoga Sūtras as late as the fourth or fifth century CE, but these arguments have all been challenged. All such arguments are problematic.”

Michele Desmarais

Michele Desmarais summarized a wide variety of dates assigned to Yogasutra, ranging from 500 BCE to 3rd century CE, noting that there is a paucity of evidence for any certainty. 

Compilation of Patanjali Yoga Sutras

Composite of various traditions

The Patanjali Yoga Sutras are a composite of various traditions. The levels of Samadhi taught in the text resemble the Buddhist Jhanas. According to Feuerstein, the Patanjali Yoga Sutras are a condensation of two different traditions, namely “eight limb yoga” (aṣṭāṅga yoga) and action yoga (Kriya yoga). The Kriya yoga part is contained in chapter 1, chapter 2 sutras 1-27, chapter 3 except sutra 54, and chapter 4. The “eight limb yoga” is described in chapter 2 sutras 28–55, and chapter 3 sutras 3 and 54.

Numerous parallels

There are numerous parallels in the ancient Samkhya, Yoga, and Abhidharma schools of thought, particularly from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century AD, notes Larson. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras may be a synthesis of these three traditions. From the Samkhya school of Hinduism, Yoga Sutras adopt the “reflective discernment” (adhyavasaya) of Prakriti and Purusa (dualism), its metaphysical rationalism, and its three epistemic methods to gaining reliable knowledge.


From Abhidharma Buddhism’s idea of Nirodhasamadhi, suggests Larson, Yoga Sutras adopt the pursuit of an altered state of awareness. However, unlike Buddhism, which believes that there is neither self nor soul, Yoga is a physicalist and realist, like Samkhya, in believing that each individual has a self and soul.

The third concept that Yoga Sutras synthesizes into its philosophy is the ancient ascetic traditions of isolation, meditation, and introspection, as well as the yoga ideas from the 1st millennium BCE Indian texts such as Katha Upanishad, Shvetashvatara Upanishad, and Maitri Upanishad.


This commentary is indispensable for the understanding of the aphoristic and terse Yoga sutras, and the study of the sutras has always referred to the Yogabhashya. Some scholars see Vyasa as a later 4th or 5th century AD commentator (as opposed to the ancient mythic figure).

Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmakosabhasya

The research findings change the historical understanding of the yoga tradition since they allow us to take the Bhāṣya as Patañjali’s very own explanation of the meaning of his somewhat cryptic sūtras.

The Yogabhashya states that ‘yoga’ in the Yoga Sutras has the meaning of ‘samadhi‘. Another commentary (the Vivarana) by a certain Shankara, confirms the interpretation of yoga samadhi (YBh. I.1): ‘yoga’ in Patañjali’s sutra has the meaning of ‘integration’. This Shankara may or may not have been the famed Vedantic scholar Adi Shankara (8th or 9th century). Scholarly opinion is still open on this issue.

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Patanjali Yoga Sutras: A Guide to Living Healthy Life

Philosophy of Patanjali Yoga Sutras


The metaphysics of Patanjali is built on the same dualist foundation as the Samkhya school. The universe is conceptualized as two realities in Samkhya-Yoga schools:

  • Puruṣa (consciousness), and
  • Prakriti (mind, cognition, emotions, and matter).

It considers consciousness and matter, self/soul and body as two different realities. Jiva (a living being) is considered as a state in which Puruṣa is bonded to Prakriti in some form, in various permutations and combinations of various elements, senses, feelings, activity, and mind. During the state of imbalance or ignorance, one of more constituents overwhelms the others, creating a form of bondage.

The ethical theory of Yoga school is based on Yamas and Niyama, as well as elements of the Guṇa theory of Samkhya.

Three Guṇas theory

Patanjali adopts the theory of Guṇa from Samkhya. Guṇas theory states that three gunas (innate tendency, attributes) are present in different proportions in all beings, and these three are:

  • Sattva guna (goodness, constructive, harmonious),
  • Rajas guna (passion, active, confused), and
  • Tamas guna (darkness, destructive, chaotic).

These three are present in every being but in different proportions, and the fundamental nature and psychological dispositions of beings are a consequence of the relative proportion of these three gunas. When Sattva guna predominates in an individual, the qualities of lucidity, wisdom, constructiveness, harmony, and peacefulness manifest themselves; when Rajas are predominant, attachment, craving, passion-driven activity, and restlessness manifest; and when Tamas predominates in an individual, ignorance, delusion, destructive behavior, lethargy, and suffering manifests. The guṇas theory underpins the philosophy of mind in the Yoga school of Hinduism.


According to Bryant, the purpose of yoga is liberation from suffering, by means of discriminative discernment. The eight limbs are “the means of achieving discriminative discernment,” the “uncoupling of Puruṣa from all connection with Prakṛiti and all involvement with the Chitta.” Bryant states that, to Patanjali, Yoga-practice “essentially consists of meditative practices culminating in attaining a state of consciousness free from all modes of active or discursive thought, and of eventually attaining a state where consciousness is unaware of any object external to itself, that is, is only aware of its own nature as consciousness unmixed with any other object.”

Jnana (knowledge)

While the Samkhya school suggests that Jnana (knowledge) is a sufficient means to Moksha, Patanjali suggests that systematic techniques/practice (personal experimentation) combined with Samkhya’s approach to knowledge is the path to Moksha.

Patanjali holds that avidya, ignorance is the cause of all five Kleshas, which are the cause of suffering and Saṁsāra. Liberation, like many other schools, is the removal of ignorance, which is achieved through discriminating discernment, knowledge, and self-awareness. The Yoga Sūtras are the Yoga school’s treatise on how to accomplish this.

Samādhi is the state where ecstatic awareness develops, state Yoga scholars, and this is how one starts the process of becoming aware of Purusa and true Self. 

All limbs of yoga are a necessary foundation

Book 3 of Patanjali’s Yogasutra is dedicated to the soteriological aspects of yoga philosophy. Patanjali begins by stating that all limbs of yoga are a necessary foundation to reaching the state of self-awareness, freedom, and liberation. He refers to the three last limbs of yoga as Samyama, in verses III.4 to III.5, and calls it the technology for “discerning principle” and mastery of Chitta and self-knowledge.

In verse III.12, the Yogasutras state that this discerning principle then empowers one to perfect sant (tranquility) and udita (reason) in one’s mind and spirit, through intentness. This leads to one’s ability to discern the difference between Sabda (word), Artha (meaning), and Pratyaya (understanding), and this ability empowers one to compassionately comprehend the cry/speech of all living beings.

Once a yogi reaches this state of Samyama, it leads to unusual powers, intuition, self-knowledge, freedoms, and kaivalya, the redemptive goal of the yogi.


The epistemology in Patanjali’s Yoga system, like the Sāmkhya school of Indian philosophy, relies on three of six Pramanas to gain reliable knowledge. These included: Pratyakṣa (perception), Anumāṇa (inference), and Sabda (Āptavacana, word/testimony of reliable sources).

Patanjali’s system, like the Samkhya school, considers Pratyakṣa or Dṛṣṭam (direct sense perception), Anumāna (inference), and Śabda or Āptavacana (verbal testimony of the sages or shāstras) to be the only valid means of knowledge or Pramana. Unlike a few other schools of Hinduism such as Advaita Vedanta, Yoga did not adopt the following three Pramanas: Upamāṇa (comparison and analogy), Arthāpatti (postulation, deriving from circumstances) or Anupalabdi (non-perception, negative/cognitive proof).


Patanjali differs from the closely related non-theistic/atheistic Samkhya school by incorporating what some scholars have called a “personal, yet essentially inactive, deity” or “personal god” (Ishvara). Hindu scholars such as the 8th century Adi Sankara, as well as many modern academic scholars, describe Yoga school as “Samkhya school with God.”

Who or what is Isvara (Sanskrit: ईश्वर)?

The Yogasutras of Patanjali uses the term Isvara in 11 verses: I.23 through I.29, II.1, II.2, II.32 and II.45. Ever since the Sutra’s release, Hindu scholars have debated and commented on who or what is Isvara? These commentaries range from defining Isvara as a “personal god” to “special self” to “anything that has spiritual significance to the individual”. 

Theistic or non-theistic

Whicher states that while Patanjali’s terse verses can be interpreted both as theistic or non-theistic. Patanjali’s concept of Isvara in Yoga philosophy functions as a “transformative catalyst or guide for aiding the yogin on the path to spiritual emancipation”. Whereas the Purusa (spirit, or true self) of the yoginis is bound to the Prakriti – the material body subject to Karmas and Kleshas, the special purusa called Isvara is immaterial and ultimately free.

Patanjali defines Isvara (Sanskrit: ईश्वर) in verse 24 of Book 1, as “a special Self/Spirit (पुरुषविशेष, Puruṣa-viśeṣa).”} This sutra adds the characteristics of Isvara as that special Self/Spirit which is unaffected (अपरामृष्ट, Aparamrsta) by one’s obstacles/hardships (क्लेश, Klesha), one’s circumstances created by past or one’s current actions (कर्म, Karma), one’s life fruits (विपाक, Vipâka), and one’s psychological dispositions/intentions (आशय, Ashaya).

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Philosophy of Patanjali Yoga Sutras

Philosophical roots and influences of Patanjali Yoga Sutras

The Patanjali Yoga Sutras incorporated the teachings of many other Indian philosophical systems prevalent at the time. According to Zimmer, Samkhya and Yoga are two of several schools of philosophy that originated over the centuries that had common roots in the pre-Aryan cultures and traditions of India.

The Vedanta-Sramana traditions, iconolatry, and Vedic rituals can be identified with the Jnana marga, Bhakti marga, and the Karma marga respectively that are outlined in the Bhagavad Gita.


The influence of Samkhya is so pervasive in the Sutras that the historian Surendranath Dasgupta went so far as to deny independent categorization to Patañjali’s system, preferring to refer to it as Patanjala Samkhya, similar to the position taken by the Jain writer Haribhadra in his commentary on Yoga.

Twenty-five tattvas

Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras accept the Samkhya’s division of the world and phenomena into twenty-five tattvas or principles:

  • Purusha (Self or consciousness),
  • Prakriti (primal nature),
  • Buddhi (intellect or will),
  • Ahamkara (ego),
  • Manas (mind),
  • Five Buddhindriyas (sensory capabilities),
  • Five Karmendriyas (action-capabilities), and
  • Ten elements.

The second part of the Sutras, the Sadhana, also summarizes the Samkhya perspectives about all seen activity lying within the realm of the three Gunas of Sattva (illumination), Rajas (passion), and Tamas (lethargy).

Surrender to God

The Yoga Sutras diverge from early Samkhya by the addition of the principle of Isvara or God, which is interpreted to mean that surrender to God is one way to liberation. Isvara is defined here as “a distinct Consciousness”. In the sutras, it is suggested that devotion to Isvara, represented by the mystical syllable Om may be the most efficient method of achieving the goal of Yoga. This syllable Om is a central element of Hinduism, appearing in all the Upanishads, including the earliest Chandogya and Brihadaranyaka Upanishads, and expounded upon in the Mandukya Upanishad.

Methods of concentration as per Patanjali Yoga Sutras

Another divergence from Samkhya is that while the Samkhya holds that knowledge is the means to liberation, Patañjali’s Yoga insists on the methods of concentration and active striving. 

Samkhya-Yoga system

However, the essential similarities between the Samkhya and Patañjali’s systems remained even after the addition of the Isvara principle. The Bhagavad Gita, one of the chief scriptures of Hinduism, is considered to be based on this synthetic Samkhya-Yoga system.

The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali is a foundational text of the Yoga philosophy school of Hinduism.

Buddhism teaching and Patanjali Yoga Sutras

Scholars have presented different viewpoints on the relationship between Patanjali Yoga Sutras and the teachings in Buddhist texts.

Unthinkable without Buddhism

Karel Werner writes, “Patanjali’s system is unthinkable without Buddhism. As far as its terminology goes there is much in the Yoga Sutras that reminds us of Buddhist formulations from the Pāli Canon and even more so from the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma and from Sautrāntika.” He adds, “upon the whole, it [Patanjali’s Yoga sutras] is more elaborate and summarizes the actual technique of Yoga procedures more exactly than the Buddhist exposition”. However, states Werner, “The Buddha was the founder of his system, even though, admittedly, he made use of some of the experiences he had previously gained under various Yoga teachers of his time.

No “Self” precepts of Buddhism

Patanjali is neither a founder nor a leader of a new movement. (…) The ingenuity of his [Patanjali’s] achievement lies in the thoroughness and completeness with which all the important stages of Yoga practice and mental experiences are included in his scheme, and in their systematic presentation in a succinct treatise.” Werner adds that the ideas of existence and the focus on “Self, Soul” in the Patanjali Yoga sutra are different from the “no Self” precepts of Buddhism.

Differences between the teachings in the Patanjali Yoga Sutras and Buddhist texts

Other scholars state there are differences between the teachings in the Yoga Sutras and those in Buddhist texts. Patanjali Yoga Sutras, for example, state Michele Desmarias, accept the concept of a Self or soul behind the operational mind, while Buddhists do not accept such a Self exists. The role of Self is central to the idea of Saṃyoga, Chitta, Self-awareness, and other concepts in Chapters 2 through 4 of the Yoga sutras, according to Desmarias.

Understanding, devotion, and practice

According to Barbara Miller, the difference between Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and teachings in Buddhist texts is, “In Samkhya and Yoga, as in Buddhism and Jainism, the most salient characteristic of existence is Dukkha or suffering. The origin of suffering is desire; according to Yoga, it is the connection between the observer (Purusha) with the observed (Prakrti). In both systems, the origin of Dukkha is ignorance.

There are also similarities in the means of deliverance recommended by the two systems. The purpose of Patanjali’s Yoga is to bring about this separation by means of understanding, devotion, and practice.

Buddhist monastic system

The Yoga Sutra, especially the fourth segment of Kaivalya Pada, contains several polemical verses critical of Buddhism, particularly the Vijñānavāda school of Vasubandhu.

Resemblance of Patanjali Yoga Sutras in Jainism

The five yamas or the constraints of the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali bear an uncanny resemblance to the five major vows of Jainism, indicating the influence of Jainism. Three other teachings closely associated with Jainism also make an appearance in Yoga:

  • The doctrine of “colors” in karma (Lesya);
  • Telos of isolation (kevala in Jainism and Kaivalyam in Yoga); and
  • The practice of nonviolence (ahimsa).

Nonviolence (ahimsa) made its first appearance in Indian philosophy-cum-religion in the Hindu texts known as the Upanishads [the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, dated to the 8th or 7th century BCE, one of the oldest Upanishads, has the earliest evidence for the use of the word Ahimsa in the sense familiar in Hinduism (a code of conduct). It bars violence against “all creatures” (Sarvabhuta) and the practitioner of Ahimsa is said to escape from the cycle of metempsychosis/reincarnation (CU 8.15.1). It also names Ahimsa as one of five essential virtues].

Influence of Patanjali Yoga Sutras

Swami Vivekananda

The contemporary Yoga tradition holds the Patanjali Yoga Sutras to be one of the foundational texts of classical Yoga philosophy. It gained prominence as a classic in the 20th century. 

Bhagavad Gita

Before the 20th century, history indicates that the medieval Indian yoga scene was dominated by various other texts such as the Bhagavad Gita. The Yoga Vasistha, texts attributed to Yajnavalkya and Hiranyagarbha, as well as literature on Hatha yoga. The members of the Jaina faith had their own, different literature on yoga, and Buddhist yoga stems from pre-Patanjali sources.

Ninth and sixteenth centuries

Some of the major commentaries on the Yoga Sutras were written between the ninth and sixteenth centuries. After the twelfth century, the school started to decline, and commentaries on Patanjali’s Yoga philosophy were few. By the sixteenth century, Patanjali’s Yoga philosophy had virtually become extinct. 

Science of yoga

It was with the rediscovery by a British Orientalist in the early 1800s that wider interest in the Yoga Sutras arose in the West.

Popular interest arose in the 19th century when the practice of yoga according to the Yoga Sutras became regarded as the science of yoga and the “supreme contemplative path to self-realization” by Swami Vivekananda, following Helena Blavatsky, president of the Theosophical Society. It has become a celebrated text in the West, states White, because of “Big Yoga – the corporate yoga subculture”.

Patanjali yoga sutras by Vivekananda
Influence of Swami Vivekananda

A list of the most important Patanjali Yoga Sutras

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali remain an essential yoga text for anyone undertaking the path of yoga. While you can find many interpretations of it, getting familiar with the sutras themselves is a great way to get closer to your yoga practice. The most important Patanjali yoga sutras include:

Atha yoga anushasam

Meaning: Now, the teachings of Yoga.

Atha is a word meant to draw your attention. Patanjali tries to be brief and is also seeking your direct attention to the teachings to follow. It is meant to show that you are now ready to receive the teachings of the sutras and you must now draw your attention to them.

Allow Atha to be your mantra as you practice today. Bringing you into the present. Use this as your ability to draw your focus to the practice. Use it to draw your awareness to the true teachings of yoga.

Yoga chitta vritti nirodhah

Meaning: Yoga is the resolution of the agitations of the mind.

The second verse of the sutras refers to consciousness and the ability to soothe the mind. Once you learn how the mind works, you can better understand how to navigate through life. Many thoughts, feelings, and emotions flow through the mind, drawing it in one direction or the other. The Chitta is the mind and the contents that fill the mind can be ever-changing. There may even be aspects of the mind that cannot see.

This verse is encouraging you to become the seer of your own mind through the practice of yoga. The seer is simply your authentic self, that does not agitate as the contents of the mind change.

Meditate on this verse by simply observing the contents of your mind. Notice when certain observations bring up feelings or pull you in a specific direction and see if you can simply step back from them, and become the observer once again.

Tada drastuh svarupe vasthanam

Meaning: Then the Seer abides in its own nature.

Seen as one of the most important verses in the sutras, this verse is seeking to bring attention to the concepts of Purusa and Prakriti. 

Meditate on this verse by drawing focus to the things that do not bring equanimity to your mind and allow them to release from you. Knowing that these things do not serve the pure nature of the Chitta to shine through.

Vrttayah pancatayyah klistaklistah pramana viparyaya vikalpa nidra smrtayah

Meaning: There are five functions or activities of the mind, which can either cause us problems or not. They are correct perception, misunderstanding, imagination, deep sleep, and memory.

These sutras represent the five functions of the mind, in knowing these functions you can allow your truest self to shine through. Patanjali lists these functions and explains that they have the power to bring you suffering or not.

It is important to understand the functions of the mind so that you can identify which one is working at the moment and assess the level of agitation it is experiencing. These sutras also express that yoga is a way of working the mind and that through the practice you can begin to separate the fluctuations of the mind from your true nature.

Practice this sutra by recognizing moments when your mind becomes agitated. Take a few breaths and consider if the thing arising is a perceived agitation, a fear, or a real perception. This practice will allow you to understand the function of your mind better.

Abhyasa vairagyabhyam tan nirodhah

Meaning: By practice and detachment these can be stopped.

Patanjali continues to focus on how to calm the mind completely. Utilizing what seem like two opposing actions of holding strong and letting go. This sutra is bringing forward the message of effort and ease when following the practice of yoga. Finding the perfect balance between both will help you to truly detach and let go of the things that pull your mind away from the practice.

When you meditate on this verse begin to notice moments where your mind attaches to any one thing. Hold strong in your insistence to let go of those things that pull you away from your practice.

Maitri karuna mudita upeksanam sukha duhkha punya apunya visayanam bhavanatas citta prasadanam

Meaning: The mind becomes purified by the cultivation of feelings of amity, compassion, goodwill, and indifference respectively towards happy, miserable, virtuous, and sinful creatures.

Patanjali uses this sutra to guide you through the things you must cultivate in order to purify the mind. Giving you guides on where to direct your practice when circumstances arise. By utilizing these tools you will find calm in any situation that you encounter.

The next time a person or situation arises practice cultivating compassion and kindness towards them. In cultivating feelings of goodwill, you will lessen mental agitations.

Tatra sthitau yatnah abhyasa

Meaning: The effort toward steadiness of mind is practice.

Patanjali expresses that practice is the only way to reach the steadiness of the mind. To practice with effort whenever possible is the only way to fully achieve mental stillness.

Whenever possible create the space to put effort into the practice of observing the mind.

Sa tu dirgha kala nairantarya satkara adara asevita drdha bhumih

Meaning: To achieve a strong foundation in our practice, we must practice over a long time, without interruption, believing in it and looking forward to it, with an attitude of service.

Patanjali references a “long-time” in this sutra. This long-time is in reference to the fact that you must practice yoga for a long time to truly hone the mind. You must find a continued commitment to the process, and must also have a fully invested belief in the practice and its ability to help you. However, you must also approach each action as a moment of service.

Create the time in your day to truly commit to your practice with full joy in service of becoming a better version of yourself in order to better those around you.

Isvara pranidhana va

Meaning: Samadhi is attained through complete and total surrender to a higher power.

Patanjali references the state of samadhi where everything comes together. In surrendering to a higher power you allow yourself to fully focus on your most authentic self.

In your practice today, allow yourself to truly let go by turning everything over to a deeper faith.

Taj Japas tad artha bhavanam

The recitation of that [syllable, OM] [leads to] the contemplation of its meaning.

Patanjali believes that the divine rests in the state of Om. By reciting Om you become closer to the divine and closer to the true nature of yourself.

Utilize Om recitation as a means to develop a deeper connection to the true nature of your mind and the divine as you practice.

Atah pratyakcetanadhigamah api antarayabhavas ca

Meaning: Then, the inner consciousness is revealed, we come to know the true Self, and our obstacles are reduced. (Yoga Sutra: Chapter I v.29)

Patanjali expresses in this sutra that the more you turn inward, the more is revealed, and the closer to your true self you become.  It is through this full practice that you overcome obstacles that are on the path of yoga.

As you meditate, begin to notice the lessening of the obstacles that occurred in the earlier practices you undertook.

Drashtr drshyayoh samyogo heya hetuh

Meaning: The cause of our suffering is the inability to distinguish between what is the truth (what perceives) and what appears to be the truth (what is perceived).

Patanjali advises that it can be difficult to distinguish real truth from the appearance of truth. The mind and its obstacles are hard to separate between the seer and the mind. Through the separation of the two, you become the master of the mind and see completely clear perception.

The Patanjali yoga sutras offer an in-depth guide to the full practice of yoga. With effort and discipline, you can be on the blissful path of yoga and a fully awakened mind.

Frequently asked questions

Before posting your query, kindly go through them:

What are Patanjali Yoga Sutras?

The Patanjali Yoga Sutras is a collection of Sanskrit sutras (aphorisms) on the theory and practice of yoga – 195 sutras (according to Vyasa and Krishnamacharya) and 196 sutras (according to other scholars including BKS Iyengar).

What are Patanjali Yoga Sutras known for?

The Patanjali Yoga Sutras is best known for its reference to Ashtanga, eight elements of practice culminating in Samadhi, the concentration of the mind on an object of meditation, namely: Yama (abstinences), Niyama (observances), Asana (yoga postures), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration of the mind), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (absorption).

However, its main aim is kaivalya, discernment of Purusha, the witness-conscious, as separate from Prakriti, the cognitive apparatus, and disentanglement of Purusha from Prakriti’s muddled defilements.


Which are the 25 Tattvas of Patanjali Yoga Sutras?

Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras accept the Samkhya’s division of the world and phenomena into twenty-five tattvas or principles: Purusha (Self or consciousness), Prakriti (primal nature), Buddhi (intellect or will), Ahamkara (ego), Manas (mind), Five Buddhindriyas (sensory capabilities), Five Karmendriyas (action-capabilities), and Ten elements.

The second part of the Sutras, the Sadhana, also summarizes the Samkhya perspectives about all seen activity lying within the realm of the three Gunas of Sattva (illumination), Rajas (passion), and Tamas (lethargy).


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