Studying the Yoga Sutras: It’s Getting Complicated

A few years back, I took a deep dive into the Sutras and I have not resurfaced yet. There is so much to learn, so much to uncover and so much that is so esoteric, that I know I will be studying for decades to come.

Yoga, it is said, in the second sutra of the very first book, is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. The question is how and my literal, black and white, modern, Western mind needs to know exactly how. And the rest of the sutras are there to explain.

Patanjali says that there are five kinds of thoughts that lead to either bondage or freedom, and that we should practice, with steady effort, for a long time, without interruption and with conviction that we are on the right path.

Then comes the big one: we must practice without attachment. Detachment. Non-attachment. These words are tossed around the yoga community as something we need to accomplish to be a real yogi. Well, truthfully, I am attached to my iPhone and my laptop and my green juice. Does that make a bad yogi or, deep breath, not a yogi at all?

What Patanjali is saying is that freedom comes from no longer craving external material things to make us happy. In my mind, then, I understand detachment to mean that I recognize that I have these things but that these things come and go. My happiness is not dependent on them. My happiness comes from inside.

Samadhi is another word that is out there and used to denote the ultimate yogic state. It is an experience of calm that is brought about by the yogi systematically moving deeper and deeper into meditation. It is a process through which we realize that we are not the external material world (detachment.) We then experience our true nature and realize our highest Self. This comes through conviction, enthusiasm, mindfulness, and concentration. This understanding is close for those yogis who are keen, and personally, I am super keen.

This has been a thoughtful, academic, intellectual journey that has given me the confidence to understand what it is I am practicing for. So here I am, only halfway through the first book and I am just beginning.

Lisa Dawn Angerame

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One comment

  1. Thanks for sharing the meaning of yoga as it was meant to be and not in terms that in today’s world is totally overlooked.

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