Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras are considered to be the greatest textual authority on Yoga.
Expansion by sculptor Paige Bradley
Patanjali divides his 196 aphorisms into four chapters discussing the wide and varied practices on Yoga. ‘Samadhi Pada’ is the first chapter and is for the ‘samahita-citta’. Meaning it is for those practitioners who through dedication and practice have high levels of concentration, resulting in a mind that is not only composed but also receptive to the subtle practice of yoga.
This is my interpretation of the first four sutras.
1.1 atha yoganusananam
With prayers for divine blessings, now begins an exposition of the sacred art of yoga.
One interpretation is to take this as a detailed explanation of how to practice the discipline of yoga. That following this ‘spiritual science’ man can transcend the Karmic Wheel of birth, death, and rebirth. Another understanding is the importance of the concept of ‘now’. We exist in the ‘here and now’. Our breath is our living mantra of the present moment. Is there anything more sacred? The practice of yoga controls breath. Breath controls the mind which in turn dampens down the sympathetic nervous system response allowing us to be supported in a state of balance. A balanced mind leads to yogic consciousness, allowing us to be present at the moment and connected with the sacred breath. And so the cycle continues.
Yoga is the cessation of the movements in the consciousness
First was Tao, The Way, from which Yin and Yang sprung. Tao is the perfect balance of energy which allows the expression of these perfect polarities. These interdependent opposites are in constant motion. This play between them creates everything, both within and without us. Through the practice of yoga, we are able to cultivate a balanced Yin Yang pattern. This dance results in qi flowing freely and properly within the body and according to the season. Following this pattern our consciousness, which is housed within the heart, is able to be nourished and held within its center. The emperor, Shen, will then rule over the kingdom (temple of the body) with integrity. Consciousness remains without fluctuations allowing us to open the heart unconditional love.
Then the seer abides in his/her own true nature.
Yoga means to yoke and bring together all our various parts. At times it can mean bringing together opposing forces, your Yin Yang aspects, such as the shadow and the ego. Integration of the opposite aspects grants us more qi. This surge of qi can lead to epiphanies, internal shifts, and the possibility to transcend the judgments which create our paradigm. Dropping our judgments allows us to move through our internal labyrinth leading us to the greater whole. Through the practice of yoga the veil that separates us from our world view, falls away. We are the universe within, a macrocosmic orbit, circulating within the macrocosm. Yoga allows us to reconnect with the rhythms of the universe, making us One again.
At other times the seer identifies with the fluctuation of the mind and forgets his/her true essence.
Yin and Yang are in a constant state of dynamic balance. Their relationship is not a static one, it is about dynamic transformation. They dance as one changes into the other. Such as day changes into night and the seasons shift, both within and without us, Yang shifts into Yin and Yin into Yang. This is The Way. Disharmony of qi will result if we do not live in accordance to this shifting which in turn leads to imbalance. This imbalance leads to disharmony and this will resonate within our minds. The veil rises and again separates us from ‘Tao’. We lose our connection with the whole, becoming isolated mirco-universes circulating within the cosmic soup.
References and Bibliography
- Australian Yoga Academy Lectures and Notes by Anthony Salenrno
- Light on Yoga Sutras of Patanjalii, by BKS Iyengar. HarperCollins Publishers. 1993. ISBN 13 978-817223-542-0
- The soap bubble photograph, taken by Richard Heeks