The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, compiled by the sage Patanjali at least 1,700 years ago, is considered one of the main authoritative texts on the practice and philosophy of yoga. The Yoga Sutras describe the eight limbs of yoga, which outline the ways in which one can live a yogic life. It also describes the results of a regular, dedicated practice. The Yoga Sutras describe the goal of yoga and then go about describing how one can achieve that goal.
Sutra means “thread,” which describes the relationship of the sutras—they are interrelated, or tied together as if by a thread. Within the Yoga Sutras are 196 aphorisms, short passages that guide the reader through four chapters, or books (padas): Samadhi Pada, which describes the results of yoga practice; Sadhana Pada, which describes the discipline itself; Vibhuti Pada, which describes some of the super-normal effects the practice can have; and Kaivalya Pada, which describes the process of liberation of the ego.
There are countless commentaries available of the Yoga Sutras, many of which are available in English. These range from the dense and philosophical to light and practical—and everything in between.
The first yoga sutra, 1.1, is a simple invocation to begin—and to begin now. Atha yoga anushasanam: Now the instruction of yoga is being made. It is a simple invitation to begin the study of yoga, in this moment, the only moment that ever really exists. It is one of the simplest yoga sutras, and yet it is so appealing because humans love to begin anew.
On that note, we will begin a series on the Yoga Sutras that highlights some of our favorite sutras, what they mean, and how they can be applied to modern life. Adding the study of yoga philosophy to a physical practice is a great way to take your yoga off the mat and out into your life. We look forward to sharing a deeper look at the practice that we have all come to love.