STUDY

Resources that may be useful in your home practice of Meditation and Asana: 
Our MEDITATION & STUDY circle employs the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali to spark our reading, discussion, and silent meditation. The Sutras of Patanjali are the instructional threads that weave the fabric of Yogic practice and philosophy. While each stitch [sutra], or thread, loops into the others to structure designs in the cloth, the whole or any of its parts can unravel into finer threads of detail. If the final fabric is like a beautiful sari, the first Pada One on Contemplation gives us an overview of the whole material, the second Pada Two on Practice tells us how to make the garment to fit, the third Pada Three on Accomplishment reveals how many ways we can use it, and the fourth Pada Four on Absoluteness describes the threadbare cloth, worn to death, perhaps to be rewoven again, perhaps disintegrating and disappearing entirely to spirit.

This same structure can be applied to the Yogic journey. In our first Step [pada] we learn about YOGA in big, broad strokes that convey the glorious possibilities but it’s all too mind-boggling to comprehend. In Step two we get down to practice—most of us in asana where we learn method and get immediate physical answers, which lead to more questions. Our third Step brings us some of the rewards of practice as we feel more alive mentally, physically, and spiritually so we practice and learn more, with more intensity and focus. Finally, perhaps we’ve walked the long path and realize we don’t have to work so hard—we’re back at Pada One but with a lot less effort and more clarity. So we learn step by step, stitch by stitch, and it’s all a beautiful piece of goods. Enjoy!

The Yoga SUTRAS of Patanjali
Book 1: Samadhi Pada ~ Portion on Contemplation
Book 2: Sadhana Pada ~ Portion on Practice
Book 3: Vibhuti Pada ~ Portion on Accomplishments
Book 4: Kaivalya Pada ~ Portion on Absoluteness
Yoga SUTRAS ~ Outlined by Subject

Patanjali's Sutras are transcribed here from translations by Sri Swami Satchidananda (Integral Yoga) and T.K.V. Desikachar (Viniyoga), without commentary. There are many translations available, many interpretations and analyses which you may choose to explore on your own. Remember that the original Sanskrit text and cultural context may feel archaic if taken literally. I have included the important Sanskrit words in parentheses for reference, but in our group we'll use simple English and explore direct, personal applications of these lessons to our own experience in yoga and life. Books 1 &2 are most commonly used for general study, though Books 3 & 4 carry us full circle back to the beginning: and now the yoga begins.

ASANA (posture) is the Third and most accessible of the Eight Limbs of Raja Yoga described in the Sutras, with instant gratification as well as long-term results, physically verifiable. This is especially appealing to us modern yogis, whose lives are shaped by an ultra-speedy and materialistic world. Asana is a personal practice that need not require an external context as the first two limbs do (YAMA & NIYAMA on social and personal behavior); nor does it demand the still and silent discipline of the last five limbs (PRANAYAMA, PRATYAHARA, DHARANA, DHYANA, SAMADHI on control of breath, senses, mind and ego, finally leading to union). But the heat and hard work of asana serve to purify the body and spirit along with the others, and it’s a lot more fun. Asana practiced sincerely will eventually lead the yogi to all the other Limbs and more.