What Is Yoga Sutras

What Is Yoga Sutras All About? Learn With Us!

You will know yoga for sure, but do you know what yoga sutras is all about? Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are 196 sutras or aphorisms, compiled from other much older sources before 400 CE by Indian called Sage Patanjali.

Yoga and pranayamas have been practised and promoted for thousands of years across the globe, entusing people across languages, nationalities, races and religions.

Yoga sutras makes it clear that yoga is a philosophy, not a religion or exercise and it’s primary aim is to remain healthy by attaining a balance between body, mind and soul.

Now, the teachings of yoga.

Yoga Sutra 1.1

What is Yoga Sutras All About

“May practise of yoga lead to reduction in suffering and increase in happiness by better focus in spiritual practise”

Translation from Sanskrit pre yoga sutras source

पतञ्जलियोगसूत्रम्

patañjali yoga sūtram

Yoga Sutras is the collection of ancient yoga texts, assembled by Indian Sage Patanjali 1700 years ago. They describe the eight limbs of yoga, offering guidelines to purposeful and meaningful life.

Who Was Sage Patanjali

Sage Patanjali is considered as one of the true Indian renaissance man. Besides the yoga sutras he is famous for, he also wrote extensive literature both in Ayurveda, defining the concept of doshas, and about the Sanskrit language and its grammar.

Surprisingly little is known about Patanjali and it is thought his teachings are perhaps an outcome of a group effort, spanning over several generations the work passing on from one teacher to the other.

There is also a myth of his birth. He was sent by God Vishnu to teach yoga on Earth in a human form as an reincarnation of thousand headed serpent Remainder to a powerful virgin yogini called Gonika, who took him in and nurtured him as her own son.

Yoga Sutras Explained

Nowadays anyone can read yoga sutra, it has been translated to many different languages from the original Sanskrit and you can even listen to them in audio files!

However in the ancient times, it took years of yoga practise and commitment by the novice to be allowed to read the spiritual teachings of the yoga sutra and start the chanting of its verses.

Yoga sutras purpose is to teach a philosophy to live ethical, meaningful and purposeful life, by defining the spiritual disciplines, divine powers and the realisations that can be achieved by yoga practise.

They are divided into four parts:

  1. Samadhi Pada – Concentration
  2. Sadhana Pada – Practice
  3. Vibhuti Pada – Progressing
  4. Kaivalya Pada – Liberation

Samadhi Pada

The first yoga sutra starts by answers the basic question: What is Yoga by explaining yoga is mastery and integration of the activities of the mind.

yoga sutra 1-14

 

It goes on explaining the importance of practice, concentration, effort and commitment. It talks about different ways of concentration, importance of aum as a shortcut to peace of mind and stabilising and clearing the mind.

Sadhana Pada

The second yoga sutra starts by talking about different colouring of thoughts and dealing with them. It then moves on to talk about karma and how to break alliance to it.

Next the text describes the eight limbs of yoga that the practiser has to follow on the path to enlightenment:

  1. Yama – restrain and self control
  2. Niyama – Activities and habits
  3. Asana – Yoga postures
  4. Pranayama – Yoga breathing exercises
  5. Pratyahara – Food and diet
  6. Dharana – Concentration and focus
  7. Dhyana – Meditation, contenplation and reflection
  8. Samadhi – State of meditative consciousness

Namas and Niyamas are defined next. They are the ethical rules of both yoga and Hinduism, containing commandments, morals, rules and goals. Their benefits are explained in more details.

Asanas, the yoga poses are described in disciplining the body, before moving on to pranayamas, the breathing exercises, and their benefits. The importance of vegetarian food and diet is emphasised for the connection of the body and mind.

Lotus

 

Vibhuti Pada

The third yoga sutra is used to explain the concepts of meditation and meditative state. It explored deeper concepts such as samyama, the practice and simultaneous experiencing of Dharan and Dhyana, complete focus and meditation.

It goes on to explore the different stages such as internal stage, leaving the body and moving into an other body. It talks about the knowledge and experiences of the renunciation and finally liberation by these practises.

Meditation

 

Kaivalya Pada

Third yoga sutra concentrates on the practise and experience obtained with it, leading to the mastery of the body and the mind.

The connection of actions and karma are explained before moving on to the memory and subconsciousness. The concept of 3 gunas, personality types in explained, together with different stages of mind.

The fourth yoga suttra ends in enlightenment and how following the eight legs of yoga can lead to it. It talks about the chances that the person who has reached the enlightenment experiences in their knowledge, meditation, gunas and physical well being.

meditate

 

My Loving Advice

Yoga sutras can only be understoods by regular practice of yoga. I first came across them when I started to study Sanskrit more than 20 years ago and only finally understood their full meaning when I studied them with the lead of my yoga guru.

Yoga sutras define the eight paths of yoga and these are basis for the every modern yoga teacher education. The yoga sutras  outline a philosophy for the every yogi and yogini to live by. It makes it clear that meditation and pranayamas are an important part of yoga practise.

If you are a beginner and want to know how to start yoga practice, take a look at my article: Starting Yoga Practice. Meditation is also an essential part of yoga and my article: Benefits of Meditation talks about how it can positively influence your life.

I hope you have enjoyed my introduction to yoga sutras and learned what yoga sutras is all about! If you have any questions of comments, please leave a message below.

 

 Love and Clarity of the Mind,

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12 thoughts on “What Is Yoga Sutras All About? Learn With Us!”

  1. I truly enjoyed your article: What is yoga sutras! I have practised yoga for 20 years and first time heard about yoga sutras when I visit Yoga Vidya by the North Sea last Autumn. I knew yoga was really old Indian tradition but didn’t realise it was thousands of years old. Do you know what the aurvedic books Patanjali has written?

  2. Hello there,

    Wow, I didn’t realize the history of yoga was so intense! I knew there were some strange customs to my own but this is some serious background to the art of yoga!

    I can appreciate the Sadhana Pada and how it is expressed in the article. A large number of people do not realize that this stuff dates back to the start of humanity. Or at least close to it!

    It’s amazing to think that you can be learning yoga that was taught 1700 years ago! That is a long time to hand down generations of practice.

    Well done on this article!

    Cheers

    1. Hi David, yoga sutras was written 1700 years ago, but what’s even more amazing is that first mentions of yoga are in the vedas, at least 5000, some sources state 7000 years ago! I am happy you enjoyed the article.

  3. I have never really known that yoga practise is so old! This is truly an eye opener for me. I’m going to start my yoga teacher education soon, so I assume that this will all be covered. Thank you for this informative post about yoga sutras!

    1. Hi Renata,
      Yoga is thousands of years old. Some sources suggest 8000 years, more conservative 5000 years. Yes, the eight brances of yoga will be the bases of your yoga teacher education, which doesn’t only cover the asanas, but also the philosophy of yoga.

    1. Hi Francine,
      Well, Hatha yoga is considered the oldest form of yoga, from which all the other forms of yoga originate.

  4. I am a true beginner of yoga, and have attended a handful of yoga classes. This style of yoga seem far more advanced than I could ever imagine. I am intrigued with yoga because of the total person (body, mind, and soul) emphasis, and it is not just an exercise. The eight pillars seem worthy to be studied by everyone. I’m just curious if this practice of yoga is popular in the US?

    1. Hi Claudette, eight pillars of yoga are extremely interesting to study, as they reveal the philosophy of yoga. I think you have misunderstood, this article is not about any specific yoga style, but rather the history and origins of yoga.

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