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Yoga Sūtras

Who is Patañjali and what are Yoga Sūtras?


The Yoga Sūtras are the first and foremost scriptures of Yoga, presented by the sage Patañjali. It is the primary text of Rāja Yoga (the ancient mental science), or Aṣṭāṅga (eight-limbed) Yoga. Sūtra can be translated as ‘thread’, and these are a combination of words “threaded” together. They are carefully coordinated Yogic thoughts, explained from teacher to student. The students would use only a few words to write them down, to remember them, and they are often not even well-formed sentences. 


There are 196 Sūtras, divided into 4 sections:

  • Samādhi Pāda: Portion on Contemplation

  • Sādhana Pāda: Portion on Practice

  • Vibhuti Pāda: Portion on Accomplishments

  • Kaivalya Pāda: Portion on Absoluteness


It is unknown when exactly Patañjali lived, and if he was even one single person. It is also a great possibility that multiple people used the same title and compiled the work. It is estimated that the Yoga Sūtras range from 5,000 B.C. to 300 A.D. Patañjali did not invent Rāja Yoga, but systematized and compiled the already existing ideas and practices. He is considered to be the “Father of Yoga”, and to this day the Yoga Sūtras are the basis for all types of meditation and Yoga.

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Yoga Sutra 1.2

yogaś citta-vr̥tti-nirodhaḥ

Yoga Sutra 2.2

samādhi-bhāvanārthaḥ kleśa-tanū-karaṇārthaś ca

Yoga Sutra 1.12

abhyāsa vairāgyābhyām tannirodhaḥ

Yoga Sutra 1.41

kṣīṇa-vṛtteḥ abhijātasya iva maṇeḥ grahītṛ grahaṇa grāhyeṣu tatstha tadañjanatā samāpattiḥ

Yoga Sutra 2.28

yogāṅgānuṣṭhānād aśuddhi-kṣaye


Yoga Sutra 2.29

yama-niyamāsana-prāṇāyāma-pratyāhāra-dhāraṇā-dhyāna-samādhayo a-ṣṭāv aṅgāni

Yoga Sutra 2.35

ahiṁsā pratiṣṭhāyām tat-sannidhau vaira-tyāgaḥ

Yoga Sutra 2.42

santoṣād anuttamaḥ sukha-lābhaḥ

Yoga Sutra 2.46

sthira-sukham āsanam

Yoga Sutra 2.47


Yoga Sutra 1.2

yogaś citta-vr̥tti-nirodhaḥ

Yoga Sūtra 1.2

मोगणित्तवणृत्तणनयोध् ॥ २॥

yogaś citta-vr̥tti-nirodhaḥ

Yogaś is yoga

Citta is ‘mind-stuff’, the workings of the mind

Vr̥tti means modifications, fluctuations (of mind and breath)

Nirodhaḥ means to stop, control over the mind


This Sūtra is often translated as ‘Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind’, or as my teacher taught me: Yoga occurs when we stop identifying with our thoughts. 


Basically, this Sūtra explains the goal of yoga. When the mind becomes still, yoga can arise. 


The outside world is based on our thoughts and our own attitude. It is our own projection. Yoga doesn’t want to change the outside world. There is a beautiful Sanskrit saying that says, “Mana eva manuṣyanam karaṇam bandha mokṣayoḥ.” The meaning of this saying is “As the mind, so the person; bondage or liberation are in your own mind. If you feel bound, you are bound. If you feel liberated, you are liberated. Things outside neither bind nor liberate you; only your attitude toward them does”.


So, if you can have nirodhaḥ; control over your thoughts and change them as you want, you will not be bound by the outside world. If you can control your mind, you will be able to control everything. Nothing in the world will bind you. And that is what yoga is based on. We are turning away from the ‘material’. Yogaś citta-vr̥tti-nirodhaḥ.

Yoga Sutra 1.12

abhyāsa vairāgyābhyām tannirodhaḥ

Yoga Sūtra 1.12

अभ्यासवयै ाग्माभ्यां तणियोध् ॥ १२॥ 

Abhyāsa vairāgyābhyām tannirodhaḥ


Abhyāsa is practice (consistent, conscious practice)

Vairāgyābhyām is freedom from desires, detachment

Tat is their (the vr̥tti states of mind)

Nirodhaḥ means controlled, restrained

We all know the word yoga, and many of us have a steady yoga practice. A practice that in the West is mainly known as yoga āsana. But is yoga only the practice of postures or is there more to it? Today we will find out by taking an in depth look at ancient scriptures. So what exactly is yoga?


According to the Bhagavad Gita yoga is balance. Balance between two extremes, like past & future, warm & cold, rich & poor. My teacher taught me that the mind craves getting into those extremes, because there’s a sense of achievement in doing so. A certain “kick”. However, the ability to find balance is what yoga is, and there’s also a great sense of achievement in that. 


The Gita says that “When you have freed yourself from attachment to the results of work, and from desires for the enjoyment of sense objects, you will get to the unitive state.” So by practicing vairāgya (detachment) you will be able to reach this state of yoga. 


We can learn a lot about the importance of detachment from The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali. For example, in Sūtra 1.12 we learn that “Repeated practice and detachment are the means to still the movements of consciousness.” 

So what this Sūtra teaches us is that through consistent practice and detachment (vairāgya) from results and outcomes and even material objects, we can achieve a serene and unitive state. By practice and detachment we can still the vr̥tti states of mind, which are the changing states of the mind. 


We learned about this in Yoga Sūtra 1.2: Yogaś citta-vr̥tti-nirodhaḥ. So the vr̥tti means fluctuations of the mind. When you conquer yourself you can live in peace no matter the outer circumstance. You will live alike in cold and heat, in pleasure and pain, in praise and blame. 


The Gita puts a large emphasis on meditation. It reads that “Those who aspire to the state of Yoga should seek the Self in inner solitude through meditation. With body and mind controlled they should constantly practice one-pointedness, free from expectations and attachment to material possessions.” So again the importance of vairāgya is made clear here. 


I asked my teacher about this emphasis on meditation in the Gita, and he explained to me that this meditation can be done in different ways. Different people have different practices, and this is not a one size fits all situation. Some can enter this state of meditation by sitting in silence, others by practicing āsanas or pranayama. The Gita goes on to explain that “With senses and mind constantly controlled through meditation, united with the Self within, an aspirant attains nirvana, the state of abiding joy and peace within.” So this chapter of the Gita explains how to attain the state of union just as Yoga Sūtra 1.12 does. 


Krishna tells Arjuna: “It is true that the mind is restless and difficult to control. But it can be conquered through regular practice and detachment.” 


Now we have taken a closer look at the meaning of Yoga according to both the Gita and the Sūtras. 


The definition of Yoga can be found in the actual word yoga, which is derived from the root “yuj”, which means to yoke (to unite/join/combine). So yoga can literally be defined as the union between the Individual and Universal Soul. 


The meaning of Yoga was first described in The Upanishads, where it’s defined as a tool to have mastery over the senses. 


The Yoga Vasistha explains it as a tool to calm the mind. 


It is very important to study the ancient texts, and also to study different translations and commentaries, to keep learning about this beautiful way of living, known as yoga. We keep further connecting to the meaning behind the words and valuable lessons, and see that they are still very relevant to this day!

Yoga Sutra 1.41 

kṣīṇa-vṛtteḥ abhijātasya iva maṇeḥ grahītṛ grahaṇa grāhyeṣu tatstha tadañjanatā samāpattiḥ

Yoga Sūtra 1.41

ऺीिवत्तृ ये णबजातस्यवे भिर्ग्े हय ीतर्ग्ृ हिर्ग्ाह्यषे ु तत्स्थतदञ्जनतासभाऩणत्त् ॥ ४१॥

kṣīṇa-vṛtteḥ abhijātasya iva maṇeḥ grahītṛ grahaṇa grāhyeṣu tatstha tadañjanatā samāpattiḥ


Kīa is weakened

Vtteḥ means the fluctuations of the mind

Abhijātasya is of a high quality, but here it means transparent

Iva like

Maeḥ of a jewel/flawless crystal

Grahītṛ the knower, the one who has comprehended

Grahaa the instrument of knowledge

Grāhyeu in the object of knowledge, to be known

Tatstha becoming stable

Tadañjanatā acquiring/taking the form of the seen or known

Samāpattiḥ transformation, complete absorption on an object


The complete absorption of the mind (samāpattiḥ) happens when the mind is clear of fluctuations (vṛttis). Then, the mind becomes like a transparent jewel, and takes the form of whatever is placed before it. The yogi realizes that the knower, the instrument of knowing, and the known are all one. Through complete absorption of the mind (samāpattiḥ) the yogi reflects purity, just like a transparent jewel.


So here we see again the emphasis on freeing the mind from all distractions in the form of the vṛttis. Only then can the mind be clear and pure like a crystal. And just like a crystal, the object that is placed in front of it is reflected perfectly. The mind can reflect and assume any form of any object.


Note the very subtle distinction between yoga, samādhi and samāpattiḥ. It is important to understand that we use yoga as a tool to reach samādhi, the state of profound meditation/total absorption. Samāpattiḥ is the balanced state of mind of the yogi who already attained samādhi, now radiating his own pure state. So both yoga and samādhi can be regarded as practices, and samāpattiḥ is the state towards which they lead. 


In the words of Sri K Pattabhi Jois: “Practice and all is coming.”

Yoga Sutra 2.2

samādhi-bhāvanārthaḥ kleśa-tanū-karaṇārthaś ca

Yoga Sūtra 2.2

सभाणधबावनाथ्य िेशतनकू यिाथिय ॥२॥

samādhi-bhāvanārthaḥ kleśa-tanū-karaṇārthaś ca 


Samādhi is meditative absorption, profound meditation, contemplation

Bhāvana means bringing about, producing

Arthaḥ for the purpose of, contemplating with meaning and feeling, to obtain

Kleśa afflictions, troubles, obstacles

Tanū means weak, to diminish

Karaa making, causing

Arthaḥ for the purpose of

Ca and, both, as well as


In this Sutra Patañjali discusses kriyā-yoga, the yoga of action. This Sutra can be translated to “The practice of (kriyā) yoga reduces afflictions and leads to samādhi''. By the practice of yoga the afflictions (kleśas) like ego, attachment, aversion, and clinging to life, are weakened. The word kleśa means to torment, trouble, cause pain, afflict. This word also gets translated as obstacles. 


By reducing these kleśas through the practice of kriyā-yoga, profound meditation is achieved, which is the precursor to samādhi (absorption). Not being subject to these afflictions leads to a vibrant life.

We can know about this from teachings and reading the Yoga Sūtras and other scriptures, however the knowledge alone will not remove these kleśas. So by knowing, yet not practicing kriyā-yoga, we will still be victims to the afflictions like ignorance and ego. A great quote by Benjamin Hoff to remind us of this very lesson is: “Knowledge and Experience do not necessarily speak the same language. But isn't the knowledge that comes from experience more valuable than the knowledge that doesn’t?”. 

So the lesson to be learned here and that Patañjali is trying to bring across is that kriyā-yoga must actively be practiced to weaken the kleśas and get to the state of samādhi. As we remember from Yoga Sutra 1.2 ‘yogaś citta-vr̥tti-nirodhaḥ’, yoga occurs when we stop identifying with our thoughts. By removing the kleśas we can get to the ultimate state of samādhi.

Yoga Sūtra 2.28

मोगाङ्गानष्ठु ानादशणु द्धऺम े ऻानदीणप्तया णववके ख्यात्े ॥ २८॥

yogāṅgānuṣṭhānād aśuddhi-kṣaye jñāna-dīptiḥ-āviveka-khyāteḥ


Yoga is yoga, to unite

Aga means limbs / aspects

Anuṣṭhānād means from the practice of / through the firm establishment of / devoted practice

Aśuddhi is impurity

Kaye means on the destruction of / elimination

Jñāna is knowledge / wisdom

Dīptiḥ means light / brilliance / radiance

Ā is up to

Viveka means discrimination / discernment / ultimate consciousness

Khyāteḥ means knowledge / vision / realization 


So this Sūtra can be translated as: Upon the destruction of impurities (through the removal of them), as a result of the practice of yoga (meaning the firm establishment of the Limbs of Yoga), the light / radiance of knowledge / wisdom arises. This culminates in discriminative discernment / absolute ultimate consciousness comes into being.


The words jñāna-dīptiḥ combined can be translated as the ‘Light of Knowledge’ or ‘Luminous Wisdom’. So by dedicated practice of the aspects / limbs of yoga, impurities will be destroyed. That is the effect of yoga. One must however practice with love and dedication.


This Sūtra introduces the eight-limbed path (known as Aṣṭāṅga Yoga), and Patañjali presents some of the great benefits of this path. Impurities are reduced (aśuddhi), and eliminated (kṣaye). So the system of yoga can be seen as a very powerful system of purification. This path also increases knowledge (jñāna) that radiates (dīptiḥ) and turns into wisdom. Ultimately this leads to the knowledge (khyāteḥ) of ultimate consciousness / discrimination (viveka).


Viveka is the ultimate state of consciousness where the yogi discovers its true nature, and develops awareness of reality. To get to this ultimate state one must have anuṣṭhānād, devoted practice and a firm establishment of all the limbs of yoga (yogāṅgās).


By this devoted practice of yoga we have a possibility to remove impurities inside ourselves. When we do so, our inner light will be able to shine. This leads to the ability to know what is right and wrong, true and untrue. We see reality as it really is, and we return to our true nature / self.

In the following Sūtras these eight limbs are carefully explained. Note that the Aṣṭāṅga Yoga (eight-limbed path) referred to here in the Yoga Sūtras is not the same as the Astanga Yoga method founded by K. Pattabhi Jois. The latter is a style of yoga consisting of six series. In the Yoga Sūtras we are talking about the eight-limbed path, consisting of Yamas, Niyamas, Yoga Āsana, Prāṇāyāma, Pratyāhāra, Dhāraṇā, Dhyāna, and Samādhi.

Yoga Sutra 2.28

yogāṅgānuṣṭhānād aśuddhi-kṣaye


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Yoga Sutra 2.29

yama-niyamāsana-prāṇāyāma-pratyāhāra-dhāraṇā-dhyāna-samādhayo a-ṣṭāv aṅgāni

Yoga Sūtra 2.29

मभणनमभासनप्रािामाभप्रत्याहायधायिाध्यानसभाधमोऽष्टाव अङ्गाणन ॥ २९॥

yama-niyamāsana-prāṇāyāma-pratyāhāra-dhāraṇā-dhyāna-samādhayo a-ṣṭāv aṅgāni


Yama means abstentions, (moral) restraints, ethics (about external world)

Niyama is observances, fixed “rules”, individual disciplines

Āsana is posture, seat (grounded and steady), physical discipline

Prāāyāma means breath control, regulation and restraint of breath, regulating the life force

Pratyāhāra is withdrawal of the senses, internal focus

Dhāraā means concentration, turning inward

Dhyāna is meditation (meditative absorption), maintain steady focus (with object of attention)

Samādhayaḥ is absorption, contemplation, state of superconsciousness, fusion, blissful delight

Aṣṭāu is eight

Agāni is limbs, parts, components


The eight limbs of Yoga are restraints, observances, posture, breath control, disengagement of the senses, concentration, meditation, and absorption.


The eight-limbed path of yoga, compiled by Patañjali, is known as Rāja Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga. Yoga āsana is the most well-known of the eight limbs, and the entry-point into the practice of yoga for most western yogis.


All the stages and limbs of this eightfold path depend and build on each other. This is called progressive sādhana (practice), where we can reach higher and higher. The list of eight limbs starts from the most external (yama: social relationships) and gradually moves more inward (samādhi).


The first limb yama is composed of five aspects. The second one, niyama, also knows five aspects. Dhyāna (meditation) is a deeper version of the stage before (dhāraṇā = concentration). So they really heavily depend on each other, and work beautifully as a whole when practiced together.


Samādhayaḥ is the state of profound meditation. Samadhi is the result of a steady focus of the mind, which we obtain by a devoted practice of meditation, releasing the object of concentration. That is the biggest achievement and ultimate goal of the yoga practice: a mind that is steady on its own, complete enlightenment.


Note that it is also advised to practice dharma (righteous conduct, duty, virtue), and accept a guru. To understand the word guru best, it is important to know the actual meaning of this word. Gu means darkness, and ru means light. So a guru is someone who removes ignorance and darkness, and gives knowledge and light.


The Yoga Sūtras that follow this one will explain each one of the limbs in more detail.

Yoga Sutra 2.35

ahiṁsā pratiṣṭhāyām tat-sannidhau vaira-tyāgaḥ

Yoga Sūtra 2.35

अणहंसाप्रणतष्ठामां तत्सणिधौ वयै त्याग् ॥ ३५॥ 

ahiṁsā pratiṣṭhāyām tat-sannidhau vaira-tyāgaḥ 


Ahi means nonviolence

Pratiṣṭhāyām is upon the establishment, upon having established

Tat that, his

Sannidhau is in the presence

Vaira enmity, hostility

Tyāgaḥ means given up


This Sutra can be translated to “In the presence of someone who is established in nonviolence, all hostilities are abandoned.” So that means that animosity disappears in the presence of someone who has perfectly established nonviolence within.


One of the Yamas (restraints, ethical codes) we practice in Ashtanga Yoga (the 8 limbs of yoga) is ahiṁsā: nonviolence (अहिंसा). In this Sūtra Patañjali explains that even the most natural enemies (like animals in the wild) give up their enmity in the presence of the yogī who has fully renounced all thoughts of violence. 


Think of The Buddha for example, who cultivated this practice and brought peace and harmony anywhere he went. Someone else who united many people through the practice of ahiṁsā is Mahatma Gandhi.

To perfect the yamas and niyamas, like ahiṁsā, the fifth limb of Ashtanga Yoga can be of great help: dhāraṇā (धारणा): fixing the mind, concentration, meditation. All the limbs complement each other, and build upon each other. Ahiṁsā is a beautiful, valuable, and important practice that can be implemented by all of us, in our daily lives.

Yoga Sutra 2.42

santoṣād anuttamaḥ sukha-lābhaḥ

Yoga Sūtra 2.42

सतं ोषाद्अनत्तु भ् सखु राब्॥४२॥

Santoṣād anuttamaḥ sukha-lābhaḥ 


Santoād means from contentment

Anuttamaḥ is the highest / supreme

Sukha is happiness / joy

Lābhaḥ means the attainment    


This Sutra can be translated to “From contentment, the highest happiness is attained.” or “By contentment, supreme joy is gained.” 


Contentment goes beyond satisfaction. Being content means not looking for things outside of ourselves to fulfill or satisfy us. It means not going to outside things for our happiness. All is well in the state of contentment. This happiness does not depend on external objects that are fleeting. Instead this highest happiness comes from a tranquil and content mind.


A beautiful quote that really summarizes this feeling of contentment is: “What’s meant for me will never miss me, and what misses me was never meant for me.” - Source unknown.


So through contentment (and the cessation of desire), the highest happiness (anuttamaḥ sukha) will arise.

Yoga Sutra 2.46

sthira-sukham āsanam

Yoga Sūtra 2.46

णस्थयसखु भ आ् सनभ ॥४६॥

sthira-sukham āsanam

Sthira is steady

Sukham is comfortable

Āsanam means posture or seat


This Sutra can be translated to “āsana is a steady, comfortable posture”. So that being said, the seat of a yogi should be steady (firm, disciplined, done with effort and focus) and joyful (sweet, comfortable).


So ask yourself this question: How many āsanas do you truly feel comfortable and steady in? It may sound very simple at first, but the reality might be that the postures aren't that easy to obtain. So this ‘sthira’ and ‘sukha’ reinforce each other. My teacher once taught me that a posture is steady because it is pleasant and pleasant because it is steady. This steadiness includes a regular breath and firmness of the body and mind. The smooth breath and easeful attitude will produce happiness and pleasure.


Toxins in the body can be removed by “squeezing” the body in different directions. And that is exactly what our āsana practice does for us. Take our forward fold Paschimottānāsana for example. This āsana cleanses the liver, spleen, and intestines. Lifting the stomach, as we do in Uḍḍīyāna Bandha, does this as well. In our daily āsana practice we move forward, sideways, in all directions. All of this is there to help us remove the toxins of the body.


Yoga Sutra 2.47


Yoga Sūtra 2.47

प्रमत्नशणै थल्यानन्तसभाऩणत्तभ्याभ ् ॥ ४७॥


Prayatna is effort
Śaithilya means relaxation

Ananta the infinite, the cosmic thousand-headed serpent Śeṣa (शेष), the image of eternity

Samāpattibhyām is the power of thought transformation, absorption of the mind


As a continuation of the previous Yoga Sūtra 2.46: “āsana is a steady, comfortable posture”, this Sūtra can be translated to: “[Such a posture should be attained] by the relaxation of effort and by absorption in the infinite.”


When you hold the posture with continuous practice, you will move into the infinite (ananta). The posture becomes perfect and effortless. By continuous practice the āsana no longer causes any pain or discomforts in the body, and becomes like a relaxation. The mind is directed toward meditation, as there are no longer bodily distractions or disturbances. We move into this meditative state by connecting body, mind, and breath. By relaxation of effort and meditation on the infinite (āsanas are perfected).


Patañjali is considered to be an incarnation of Śeṣa (शेष), the thousand-headed serpent. The tradition goes that Śeṣa desired to teach yoga on earth. You might be familiar with the Ashtanga Yoga opening chant, which is an invocation to Patañjali. The part in which we chant about the brilliant Patañjali can be translated to: “I bow to Patanjali who has assumed the human form of a brilliantly luminous man with a thousand radiant heads and who bears a conch, discus and a sword.” (ābāhu purushākāram śankhacakrāsi dhārinam sahasra śirasam śvetam pranamāmi patanjalim).


In Iyengar yoga tradition, the invocation to Patañjali that is chanted at the beginning of āsana classes comes from a commentary of Bhoja Rāja, and it reads:


Yogena cittasya padena vacam 

Malam sarirasyaca vaidyakena 

Yopakarottam prvaram muninam 

Patanjalim pranjaliranato’smi


I bow with folded hands to the noblest of sages, Patanjali, who removed

impurities of the mind through yoga, the impurities of speech through

grammar, and impurities of the body through medicine. 


ābāhu purushākāram 

śankhacakrāsi dhārinam 

sahasra śirasam śvetam 

pranamāmi patanjalim 


I salute before Patañjali whose upper body has a human form, whose arms

hold a conch, a disc and a sword, who is crowned by a thousand headed cobra. 

Prānāyāma refers to the control and regulation of breath, and is considered a vital tool in the overall practice of yoga, supporting physical health, mental clarity, and spiritual growth.


Patañjali emphasizes the significance of Prānāyāma as a means to control the fluctuations of the mind and cultivate a state of deep concentration. The next Yoga Sūtras (2.49-2.53) will help us deeper explore what Prānāyāma actually is, and explain its effects.

Yoga Sutra 2.49

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Yoga Sūtra 2.49

तणस्मन स् णत श्वासप्रश्वासमोगणय तणवच्छदे ् प्रािामाभ् ॥ ४९॥ 

tasmin sati śvāsa-praśvāsayor gati-vicchedaḥ prāṇāyāmaḥ


Tasmin is that

Sati means is attained/being accomplished

Śvāsa inhalation

Praśvāsayoḥ exhalation

Gati movement

Vicchedaḥ regulation, cessation

Prāāyāmaḥ breath control


This Sūtra can be translated as, "When that (āsana) is accomplished, control over inhalation and exhalation is achieved, and this is prāṇāyāmaḥ." 


Prānāyāma is one of the eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga. All these limbs work together to guide practitioners towards a state of higher consciousness.


This Sūtra suggests that Prānāyāma is a natural progression that follows the establishment of a steady and comfortable posture (āsana). With a stable foundation, practitioners can then focus on controlling their breath as a means of directing and refining their life force energy (prāṇa). So that means that āsana is the prerequisite to a good Prānāyāma practice. To be able to hold a steady seat is necessary in order to practice Prānāyāma. In his take on the Yoga Sūtras, B.K.S. Iyengar states clearly: “It [Prānāyāma] is to be practiced only after perfection in āsana is attained.”


Just like the yamas and niyamas are important to work on before even starting your yoga āsana practice, the practice of āsanas is the entryway into being able to fix the mind in serious and prolonged prānāyāma and meditation.

In samadhi, the breath becomes so subtle as not to be perceived, or becomes even wholly suspended.

Yoga Sutra 2.50

recording unavailable

Yoga Sūtra 2.50

फाह्याभ्यन्तयस्तम्भवणृ त्त् दशे कारसख्यं ाणब् ऩणयदृष्टो द ी घ सय क्ष्मू ् 

bāhya-ābhyantara-stambha vṛttiḥ deśa-kāla-saṅkhyābhiḥ paridṛṣṭo dīrgha-sūkṣmaḥ


Bāhya external

Ābhyantara internal

Stambha restrained

Vttiḥ movements

Deśa place

Kāla time, duration

Sakhyābhiḥ number

Paridṛṣṭo is manifest, measured

Dīrgha long (in place and time), expansion, high

Sūkmaḥ subtle, soft


Prāṇāyāmaḥ manifests in three movements: as external, internal, and restrained movements (of breath). These are all regulated with precision according to place, time, and number. 


The three movements are prolonged and fine inhalation, exhalation, and retention. 


This sutra indicates that the practice of Prānāyāma involves regulating the duration, pace, and rhythm of the breath, considering factors such as space, time, and counting. It suggests that by consciously manipulating the breath, practitioners can influence the flow of prana and bring about specific effects on the mind and body.

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