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Yoga Sutra I.2 – What is Yoga?

YS I.2 yogas citta-vrtti-nirodhah

What is Yoga? There are many interpretations of this word. I really like Patanjali’s definition in this sutra: Yoga is a practice to cease the fluctuations of the mind or ability to direct the mind toward an object and sustain that direction without any interruption.

We have all been at the mercy of the minds. Our thoughts can agitate or please us – but can’t lead us to the goal of Yoga. To move to a higher state of conciseness, we need a quite mind. Imagine, living a life to a full potential and seeing the reality?

We can say that the reality is perceived by two categories: purusa or pure awareness and prakrti – physical being, or material universe. Purusa marinates in three dimensional citta before materializing into a physical body. The term citta (from cit, to think, consider, fix the mind on) refer to buddhi (intelligence), ahankara (ego) and manas (mind).

  • And the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts.  – Shakespeare
  • Let them play for a while, and they will leave of their own accord.         –Sri Ramakrishna

Citta is a three dimensional and consists of buddhi, ahankara and manas. Buddhi, intelligence – is an aspect of thought connected to judgment, discrimination, knowledge and will. It’s the most important aspect of the citta. Buddhi is a link between manas and purusa. Since we can’t work directly with purusa, we can focus on the mind.

Ahankara, “I am that” – the ego. Ahankara could be one of our greatest limitations; “I am not worthy enough or “I am only that!” We’re our worst enemies after all. Our narrow confinement of the self leads us to experience ourselves as limited and eternal.

  • In our ego-centered world where the rational knowledge is increased, we believe in our uniqueness and limitation (can be read as synonyms). – Carl Jung.

Manas are the part of citta through which the mind interacts with the external world and takes in sensory impressions and data. Manas are the questioning and doubting agent.

Vrttis or activities of the mind (defined in YS I.5) are: pramana (direct sensual perception), viparyaya (incorrect understanding), vikalpa (imagination), nidra (dreamless sleep) and smrti (memory).

The mind is constantly changing and moving like the endless waves in the ocean in Hawaii, where the spirit (purusa) is free. We perceive the world thought the images and senses.  Awareness of the objects is brought by means of buddhi, with the sense objects provide images received thought the senses and sorted by the manas to be transferred back to the intellect.

The mind is clouded with memories and perceptions and purusa is constantly buried by vrttis. Imagine looking through the dusty mirror at oneself and thinking that we are dusty.

Nirodhah means to control or restrain.

We can say that the goal of yoga is to still the mind or keep it focused. By concentration, and quieting the mind, various influences of actions and are suppressed and the clear aspect of the mind can manifest to its full potential. Once the dust has been removed, we can see our true faces in the mirror.  Essentially, we can say that we practice yoga to see things clearly and live the life to its fullest potential.

This entry was posted on Monday, February 7th, 2011 at 11:29 am and is filed under Yoga, Yoga Sutra. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Yoga Sutra I.2 – What is Yoga?”

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  1. [...] practice of Yoga consists of many layers and is deeply rooted in philosophy. To simplify, Yoga is a method for [...]

  2. Carolyn Veil says:

    I think you’ll never stop! This is often the most impressive website I’ve ever read

  3. [...] Practice, practice, but not just any practice…Let’s consider our yoga practice. One of many definitions of yoga is to quiet the mind’s chatter so we see the reality more clearly. In a nutshell, this yoga [...]

  4. [...] consider our yoga practice. One of many definitions of yoga is to quiet the mind’s chatter so we see the reality more clearly. In a nutshell, this yoga [...]

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