Expedition into Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

Patanjali begins the Yoga Sutras: “Yoga is to still the patterning of consciousness. Then pure awareness can abide in its very nature. Otherwise awareness takes itself to be the patterns of consciousness” (Chip Hartranft, Shambala Sun, July 2008).

The Sutras, in all their mystery and complexity, begin with the ending in mind. But this early revelation is anything but a “spoiler.” Indeed, one must have a clear vision of what the end looks like in order to know when you’ve reached it. Using the image provided in the first sutra, let’s work our way through the yoga sutras, one sutra a week, to see what comes to be when we apply this ancient process to the modern day. I’ll write a few thoughts about each sutra, and hopefully you’ll share your insights as well. I’ll try to keep the postings short- I know we’re all trying to manage the 100,000,000 things left to do today/this lifetime.

The timing for this experiment, oddly enough, comes during a major transition point in my life. I graduated college in May from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in American Studies, as well as a RYT-200 certification from Solace Yoga Studio, and recently moved to the south Bay Area in California. The ample amounts of fresh food and sunlight has made it easy for my husband and I to adapt. Did I mention I just got married?! When I said major transition point, I was not exaggerating. What better time to evaluate your mental, spiritual, and emotional self than after you’ve been guided into the unknown?

Yoga, it seems, is a conscious “letting go” of the patterns that have held us back, so that we may come to rest comfortably in who we are. With that beautiful intention in mind, we can begin our practice with clarity as to our goal. The goal is not to put our bodies into the craziest looking shapes that we can. The goal is to be able to recognize ourselves for what we are, for who we are. My hypothesis as to why we want to do that is… love.

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