All of the information provided is my own personal interpretation of the Yoga Sutras. Remember that yoga is open to interpretation and has many different perspectives. If something doesn't sound right then question it! Get curious about this ancient tradition so that you yourself can explore, understand and learn what is important to you.
My main source of reference for this workshop was from a book called The Path of the Yoga Sutras by Nicolai Bachman.
A Modest Introduction to Yoga Philosophy
This workshop will help give you a deeper insight to yoga philosophy so you can, in your own personal way, answer the following questions:
- What is yoga?
- What is the purpose of yoga?
- What are the 8 limbs?
- How can I practice this in my life?
To answer these questions we will turn to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras
- The sutras are at least 1700 years old and make of 196 sutras that prepare us for the journey inwards
- Written by Patanjali. No one knows who Patanjali was but it’s most likely actually 3 people specialising in Yoga, Ayurveda, and Sanskrit.
- The sutras are written in 4 chapters which covers the goal of yoga, the how to’s, the results and the highest state, Samadhi.
- The 8 limbs of yoga are covered here and the sutras move from the outer most limbs to the inner limbs
Essential concepts to understanding Yoga Philosophy
- Isvara - knowledge, source, universe, God
- Purusa - inner light in an individual, that which is connected to all things including isvara
- Prakriti - that inside of us that is always moving and changing like thoughts, emotions
- Citta - our outer mind, inner mind and ego and memory. Storage of our experiences. This is what we want to clarify to we can see what’s real and true.
- Viveka - keen discernment. The ability to chose wisely.
- Practice - Think of an area in your life where you could practice more viveka. How would you go about doing this?
- Duhksha - pain/suffering
- Practice - What valuable lessons have you learned from your “mistakes”?
- Samskara - cycle of pain/suffering
8 Limbs of Yoga
- Yama - guidelines for ethics (me + the world)
- Niyamas - personal practices (me + me)
- Asana - prepares the body for meditation
- Pranayama - removes obstruction for prana (energy)
- Pratyahara - removes sensory attachments
- Dharana - concentration
- Dhyana - meditation
- Samadhi - bliss
Easy right?! Nope! Every human experiences what are called Kleshas, which cause negative reactions. Think of them like seeds. We can continue on our path in life either watering these seeds to grow, or our actions (like practicing yoga) can starve them.
1) Avidya - ignorance, incorrect knowledge, misunderstanding. This is the root of the other Kleshas.
2) Asmita - Ego, a distorted image of ourselves.
- Practice - is there any area in your life where you think you are better than someone else?
3) Raga - desire for previous pleasure
- Practice - Think of a relationship you knew you needed to end but kept getting pulled back into it. What made you return? How can you prevent this from happening again?
4) Dvesa - aversion to fear/pain (opposite to raga)
5) Abhinivesa - fear of death
Let’s go back to the 8 limbs to see how we can overcome these dang Kleshas!
1) Ahimsa - non violence towards ourselves and others
2) Satya - truthfulness
3) Asteya - non stealing
4) Brahmacarya - controlling our sexual behaviours
5) Aparigraha - non hoarding, non attachment
- Saucha - cleanliness
- Santosha - contentment
- Tapas - “to heat” - putting things into practice
- Svadhyaya - self study
- Isvara - Pranidhana - surrender
The final 3 niyamas make what we call Kriya Yoga. This is used to really weaken any Klesha. Deliberate action, self study to understand our kleshas, and faith.
The most important part of this: HOW DO WE APPLY THIS TO OUR LIVES?!