Yoga Sutras are a guide on how to live a healthy life, and finding knowledge of self
Personal translation of the Yoga Sutras with research and studies
Sutra 1 – Yoga Anushasanam Atha Yoga Anushasanam
- Yoga Anushasanam literally means “Instructions”
Yoga Anushasanam states that words alone will never bring us to our goal, and that without practice you will never achieve union of the mind and body.
Words alone can never be the only practice to unite us with our body, enabling the spirit to do its will. In order for us to find our mind body connection there must be some type of unification process and Yoga means unification process.
Sutra 2 – Yoga Chittam Vritti Nirodha (Yogichitta or Bodhichitta)
- Restraint and the contentment of the mind is Yoga
- Mental restraint through modifications of thought, mindful action, and or inaction, habit.
- By managing the self, mind and body, one is able to do as the spirit wills.
- The Ahamkara or the Small self(ego) is introduced
First off, the ego houses intellect and discriminative judgment. Second, reaction or judgement causes other parts of the mind to hold on to desire. Then manas become imbalanced. Manas is the part of the mind that houses the ability to be content, and relies on external thoughts or material objects to give self gratification.
Although the gratification is short lived, this system is also self perpetuating as it masks itself within a cycle of ups and downs in the host.
After the desired thought or material object is obtained or achieved, the host seeks more and more. Want is created by the manas not allowing for peace.
“As is the mind, so is the man”
Bondage or liberation comes from within. It all begins when you begin to label thoughts and or objects.
When labeling occurs it disturbs the mind’s peace, judgment happens. Labeling forces the mind to think about the judgement and it attaches impressions to that thought.
Perpetual practice of Yoga brings the ability to become our minds conductor. Commanding peace, silence, stillness, nowness, awareness, focus and with the hosts will have either liberation or bondage.
Through modifications and management of habits, daily rituals, attitude, and thought patterns, one is able to break from attachment. A state of mind where there are no wants or desires will leave the mind at peace.
Sutra 3 – Tada Drastuh Svarupe Avasthanam
– “Then the seer abides in his own nature”
In order to find peace and union, you must be able to silence the mind
- An untrained mind is like a swamp, with murky waters, and never clear
- Chittam Vritti – when the mind has been truly stilled
- Without Chitta Vritti the water is murky and muddled, unfocused, unaware,
Essentially, the mind in its natural state is causal, always stuck in duality. All together, the higher self knows when the mind creates thoughts, or desires, but is not involved and stays detached from any earthly desires.
Delving into the self
While the small self (ego and id) creates wants and desires, filling up the minds space with thoughts on how to achieve the gratification on obtaining the thought or material object in desire.
Similarly, the negative side effects of an imbalance from the creation of desires and wants in the munas can later manifest physically in the body.
Likewise, with improper management of breath, posture, diet, negative thinking lead to a perpetual snowball effect of self destructive behaviors.
Left untouched issues end up causing, chronic stress, rise in bmi, postural misalignment, and tension in muscles and other parts of the internal body.
If any of these become a rooted problem and not taken care of in the host, it can lead to chronic pain, disease, even an early unwarranted death.
The Solution: Eight Limb Yoga System
All in all, the perpetual practice of Eight Limb with the 5 keys to Yoga (proper management of relaxation, exercise, breathing, diet, and positive thinking), brings the practitioner to a higher level of health, mentally and physically.
Although this is a science that has been refined for the past five thousand years, recent scientific studies from the American journal of health show that the Practice of Yoga stimulates the Relaxation Response,
Furthermore, with only six weeks of practice, the Relaxation response has been proven to activate good genes and deactivate bad genes. This is called genomics
In light of the latest peer reviewed studies even after eight weeks of guided practice 316 genes became up-regulated that control healing, a strong immune system, as well as the bodies stress management system, cardiovascular/pulmonary health, had been activated. Additionally the studies show that 279 genes had been down-regulated.
Philosophy coupled with practice of the eight limbs, the Yoga Sutras are essentially the science of mind body connection
Statistically the evidence gets even deeper when long time practitioners are tested, the changes in their blood was significantly more pronounced.
By and large, incorporating the Yoga Sutras along with the Eight limbs practice brings an abundance of health, mentally and physically.
“If you are able to control the mind, you have controlled everything, and there is nothing in this world that can bind you”
Sutra 4 – Vritti Sarupyam Itaratra
“At times the self appears to assume the forms of mental modification”
- There is no difference between you and I, we are all of the same energy source but different flavors or spices.
- This energy can come to look in many different forms, a dog a wall, a politician, a banker. Without these labels, you are able to find that there is no difference and that the energy behind it is the same but translated into different versions.
- Behind all energy is one unchanging consciousness, or spirit
Again the Yoga Sutras show you that stilling the mind is key to understanding
Vritti Sarupyam Itaratra explains that once the mind is silenced, you are able to witness the all.
With the ability to silence the mind, you are able to delve deeper within our self and look introspectively. Knowledge of self helps you to discover what flavor or spice you bring to the table. Correspondingly this allows you to share more of who you are and what your truth is.
When you are able to drop all labels you are able to see that all is one in the same. Every person, every creature, every material object are of the same essence and energy, upcycled and rearranged at an atomic level.
Not to mention, one of the main ideas of the Yoga Sutras is that perception is not duality
Yoga is based on self reformation, self control, self adjustment to our core being so that you may cure ‘Jaundiced’ eyes. After clearing our vision with the purification practice of Yoga,
Past impressions of the world and no longer exist and change. For a creature to thrive in the forest, it must be able to adapt to the changes that life brings through the season.
With reproach after mental modifications, you are able to see a harmonious world, a new world that is happy and full of life. Change the mind, change the world.
“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.” ―Thích Nhất Hạnh
Sutra 5 – Vrittayah Panchatyyah Klishta Atelishta
-“There are five kinds of mental modifications, which can be painful or painless”
- Pain of pleasure is of the mind and is perception
- Thought can either be selfish or selfless
- You must be able to give without the thought of receiving
- No expectations!
- Uncolor our thoughts
“If our thoughts remain uncolored, no self affliction will ever occur. This also means holding back on past impressions, judgments.”
Imagine a hot air balloon. A hot air balloon needs the right amount of everything in order for it to take off, Fuel, Hot Air, Sand Bags, material for the balloon, straps, basket, with a competent hot air balloonist.
If the balloon has to much or not enough of either one of these it will not fly correctly. It might fly really low to the ground, or too high, or an incompetent hot air balloonist might fly the entire rig off course into a raging storm or forest.
The lessons from the hot air balloonist and remove what the balloon does not need to fly efficiently.
The competent balloonist knows they can land to pick up from time to time to gather the right amount of supplies. Hopefully our balloonist did not forget to pack a nice lunch because I’m hungry.
For this next excerpt the balloon will represent our subconscious mind and the balloonist as our conscious mind.
Yoga Sutras teach that unlike any other creature, we are “Of the Mind”
Consciousness is the part of the mind that houses the ego, if the ego is out of balance the balloonist might take unnecessary risks and run the balloon into trouble. An incompetent balloonist will fly in a thunderstorm.
In this scenario when dealing with the subconscious, if the balloonist has to many previous impressions, incorrect thoughts, or too big of an imagination, the balloon will have rips and tears at the seams of the, not enough fuel, or not enough sand to weigh the balloon down.
The balloon can still fly with some minor defects, and or deficiencies because it is versatile, but flight will be difficult and dangerous.
Yoga is the seamstress that will come and repair the torn balloon, or the wise balloonist who packs just right.
Sutra 6 – Pramana Viparyaya Vikalpa Nidra Smritayah
Yoga Sutras five Vritti or The five types of thought that one can witness
- Correct Knowledge or Wisdom
- Misconception or incorrect knowledge
- Delusions, day dreams, or Imagination
- Dream Sleep
Sutra 7 – Pratyaksha Anumana Agamah Pramanani
Of the five Vritti there are only three ways of thought to obtain correct or true knowledge
Pratyaksha – Direct perception or cognition
- Anumana – Reasoning/Inference
- Agamah – Valid / Scriptural Testimony
- Pramanani – Valid means of knowing/Right Knowledge
Yoga Sutras “Correct Knowledge”
Pratyaksha –of the 5 ways of thought only three are useful to obtain the right knowledge. Valid means of knowing something can come from scripture, direct perception or reasoning.
Agamah can at times be an invalid means of knowing as well. Taking someone’s word who is in authority, the media, information from a book/scripture can be a great way to obtain knowledge.
“All Scripture from no matter the part of the world should come into agreement”
In the Yoga Sutras, Swami Satchidananda warns us that the truth can never be changed, however, language, is not of permanence neither is ritual. Satchidananda tells us not to hold on to the words because of their ever changing nature.
A great metaphor to describe how the truth can be remodeled is looking at an older abandoned building. The exterior can be reclaimed, and polished to look new age, however the foundation of the building can not be changed without demolishing the building.
Agamah – Reconstruction vs Remodeling
Moreover, with the rooms inside remodeled, a new kitchen, additions/annexes added on, it is essentially the same building.
Additionally, the same thing can be said about a person when the scenario is changed. Say there is a middle aged woman, and this woman has put on makeup, dyed her hair, changed her outfit, and got plastic surgery. Although she has received all these changes that alter her outer appearance, overall she is still the same person on the inside. Her mind still has the same habits, and thoughts.
By the same token, this verse also states that there is a need to be prepared for the situation at hand. For example if one was going to visit the arctic circle, it would be a great idea not to show up in shorts.
Likewise the Yoga Sutras teach acceptance. In order to move forward, you must become one with your junk inorder to properly sort and organise everything.
When thoughts are left unorganized, it’s as if you are not packing clothes food rations, fuel water on this now paralysis journey.
Another great analogy would be to picture a kitchen, and it is stocked with fresh groceries as well as trash that is halfway full.
The trash here is undesirable thought, and the freshly bought groceries are the 3 correct ways of knowing.
A great way to show how keeping thoughts unorganised will cause havoc in this scenario is If one takes the food and stores it in with the trash.
You will not be able to throw out the trash without throwing away fresh groceries that are unused. Essentially this is the mind left untrained.
Equally, this also makes it impossible to cook a meal without getting sick. All together what you have is a big waste of effort and energy when it comes time to throw out the trash and buying fresh groceries.
Sutra 8 – Viparyaya Mithyajnanam Atudrupa Pratisham
- Mithya Jnanam – False Knowledge of the unreal, erroneous information
- Atad Rupa – Not on that form of nature, false nature
- Pratisham – Based ON
You might see something and assume that it is something that it is not. Mean while being to assess and judge with conceptions, previous impressions, and new notions notions that can be untrue.
Again the Yoga Sutras show that creating notions, or judgment causes unsettling of the mind. Imagine as if the mind was a serene lake, and our subconscious mind is a hippo at the bottom of the lake becomes agitated and begins to stir up the mud that has settled to the bottom.
Sutra 9 – Sabdajnana Anuputi Vatsu Sunyo(Shunyam) Vikalpah
- Sabdajnana – Knowledge on words
- Anuputi – Arises
- Vatsu – Reality or real objects
- Sunyo(Shunyam) – Devoid of, Without any, Or Empty
- Vikalpah – Verbal delusions, imagination (daydream), verbal misconception, fantasy, or delusion
Believing something is true due to false imagination, bad memory, when it has no claim to reality.
Identically this can also lead to a thought pattern that has verbal expression, and false knowledge that has no claim to reality or existence.
Believing that one is the center of the universe is a great example. Another way of showing this is when one says I am an idiot, or my father was a drunken gambler.
Holding yourself up to a certain standard changes the game – Yoga Sutras
All together, the Yoga Sutras teach you to make wise decisions, not based off impressions, or imaginations, but on raw and real data.
Sutra 10 – Abhava Pratya Lambana Vrittir Nidra
- Abhava – Nothingness, absence of, non-existence, negation, voidness or devoid of, anti-matter
- Pratyaya – The cause of, notion, cognition, presented idea
- Alambana – Support, dependent on like a substrate or tripod, having a foundation
- Vrittir – Modification of mind, changes of the five vritti
- Nidra – Yogic Sleep, meditation, sleep, or deep sleep
The mental modifications supported by cognition of nothingness in Nidra
The fourth type of Vritti
You have thought during sleep, essentially in our dream state that becomes our reality. Creating a new reality when you wake in a dream state.
It is important to maintain the correct mindset even during our dream states so that you do not have incorrect perception and create impressions.
By the same token, this is another form of mind training so that when you are in dream state you can remain in control.
By becoming cognitive during sleep state, one can maintain yogic values even when demons are haunting you in a nightmare dream state.
In either case, this type of Nidra is necessary when approaching the fourth watch. By understanding conceptions, you are are able to march forward.
Sutra 11 – Anubta Visayam Pramosah Smritih
- Anubta – Experienced
- Visahaya – Objects of experience or impressions
- Asampramoshah – Not being lost or never forgotten
- Smrittih – Memory or remembering
A form of mental modification is reminiscing about a memory, it is something that was perceived in the past and can never be replayed the same way it actually happened. Uniquely, this comes with adding new data from other objects in your current life. Thoughts, or memories from any point of our past are altered depending on your given mood at the time.
Memories create impressions, judgments, and preconceived notions either positive or negative taking us out of reality in the here and now and placing back when you had the original impression.
Thinking it, becoming it – Yoga Sutras
When judgement occurs, you are only able to perceive that small piece of reality. Essentially that is all one is able to see, and they become unable to perceive reality and mix the past with right now.
Memories come in two ways, dreams or daydreams, with yogic training you learn to still the mind so that you are able to be in the here and now without causing the hippo at the bottom of our serene lake to unsettle the mud.
In essence the Yoga Sutras show that by allowing previous impressions to mark on reality today in the here and now, one is not truly experiencing reality.
What you will be experiencing is something that’s partly true. When something is partly true, you can not fully understand what is going on. You will not be able to take in all the information available. On the whole this enables the cycle to perpetuate.
Sutra 12 – Abhyasa Varigya Bhyam Tanni Rodha
- Abhyasa – With perpetual practice
- Vairgya Bhyam – non attachment
- Nirodah – restraint (mental restraint)
With the correct mental modifications, undesirable thoughts are restrained by the perpetual practice of non-attachment.
Three correct Vritti are mastered with non-attachment which then leads to the stilling of the mind
Sutra 13 – Tatra Sthiato Yatno Bhyasa
- Tatra – Of these
- Sthitau – Steadiness, stability, stable tranquility, undisturbed calmness or stillness
- Yatnah – Effort, persistent exertion, endeavor
- Abhyasa – With perpetual practice, repeated practice
Develop a perpetual practice of attempting to still the mind, as it is the minds nature to disrupt stillness
Tatra Sthiato Yatno Bhyasa shows how Yoga with a perpetual practice will eternally still unwanted thought.
Yoga Sutras say that in order to be able to observe the five Vritti takes perpetual practice, one must constantly endure through life and never question the practice no matter what situation arises.
You can not drop core beliefs and yogic practice as soon as something negative or positive happens. Allowing your guard to drop for even a moment will allow for the two incorrect types of thought (of the Vritti) to taint your life and jaundice your eyes.
Sutra 14 – Sah tu Dirgha Narantaryah Satkara Rasevito Drdhabhumin
- Sah – this
- Tu – and,but,however
- Dirgha – longtime
- Nairantaryah – without break, interruption
- Sat Kara – Earnestness, with full devotion and love, and right attitude
- Asevitah – practiced, pursued, cultivated, well attended, with attention to detail
- Dridha Bhumin – Stable, solid foundation, firmly rooted, grounded
“Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and sincere devoted action”
Yoga Sutras dictate that it takes a daily conscious and deliberative effort to still the mind.
In order to remain an observer one must possess these qualities patience, devotion, and faith.
Sutra 15 – Drstanusravika Visaya Vitrsasya Vasikara Samjna Vairgyam
- Drishta – Seen or perceived
- Anu Shravika – Revealed, Heard, in traditional scripture
- Vishaya – Object, Subjects of experience
- Vitro Shasya – Of him who is free from cravings and desires
- Vashikara – Mastery, full & total control
- Samjna – Conscious awareness
- Vairgyam – Non attachment, no unhealthy ego driven desire neutrality
Knowledge of Self Through the Yoga Sutras
Consciousness of self-mastery is one who is free from desire, judgment, and preconceived notions, free from desire that will stir the mind.
With the stilling of the mind, the mind loses attachments & desires. Attachment and desire are perpetual cycles that unstill the mind.
Devote yourself and focus on the practice of non-attachment without break in practice. Practice without deliberate focus is will end up in vain.
Practice of Yoga is not the center of a social gathering. You must loose all selfish desire that are ego driven.
Even the desire for liberation is selfish because you are not fulfilling our dharma and doing the most good you can do. All things considered, it is better to chase a greater good than achieving liberation. When you are chasing your dharma without judgment, and ego both can be achieved at the same time.