With all of the controversy and distortion about yoga in the media lately, I thought I’d take us back to the basics — before ridiculous sex scandals and unfounded sensationalized books — to examine the foundational text of Raja Yoga, The Yoga Sūtras. Raja yoga which includes asana (poses), focuses on transcending the mind through meditation. in fact, Patanjali refers to yoga as “the settling of mind into silence.” P.S. asana helps set the body up for meditation.
While Patañjali was not the first to write about yoga, his sutras have become an authority text along with the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads (which make up the sanskrit Hindu epic, the Mahabharata). The yoga sutras are aphorisms that outline the art, science, and practice of yoga and meditation. Yoga means union or join — the uniting our ourselves that isn’t actually separate — and sutra means thread.
The yoga sutras are referred to as the eight limbs or eight fold path of yoga because the path is not necessarily sequential as one can be practicing many concurrently. The first limb of yoga are the yamas, or laws of life (sometimes referred to as restraints). They can be thought of as the universal moral code for living. Continue reading