The Library

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali




Little is known about the man, or men, who wrote the `Yoga Sutras`, also known as the `Aphorisms of Yoga`.  It has been dated between the 2nd century BCE and the 2nd century CE.  The actual work is made up of only 195 aphorisms or sutras, but within those few short statements are the essential teachings of yoga.


It is likely that the aphorisms were not original thought on the part of Patanjali.  Bearing in mind the common practice of the times that all teachings were passed from guru to shishya orally it is more than likely that Patanjali was recording the teachings which he had received, or was aware of.


In the aphorisms are the various aspects of yoga constituting the eight-fold path or `astanga`.  It is important to differentiate between `astanga yoga` i.e. the eight fold-path, and Astanga Vinyasa Yoga – the form of Power or Dynamic yoga popular today and promoted by the teachings of Patabhi Jois.


The first sutra is one of the most well known quotations from the classical texts –

          `We now begin the study of yoga`.

Perhaps of even greater importance however is the second sutra which makes clear that the aim of yoga is not to become fit or healthy –

          `Yoga is controlling the activities of the mind (chitta)`.

                   From `Aphorisms of Yoga` trans. Purohit Swami, with intro.             by WB Yeats

Over the centuries many commentaries have been written on the sutras which continue to be studied by all students of yoga even today.


See also Patanjali

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