Book One of the Yoga Sutras: Portion on Contemplation
The Yoga Sutras are the guidebook to Raja Yoga. A sage, named Patanjali Maharishi dictated these notes to his students around 400 CE. His students recorded his explanation in shorthand, so it is difficult to read without a commentary. I use Sri Swami Satchidananda’s, but there are many good ones available.
Book One, Sutra Two - The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga
The second sutra is one of the best known for good reason. As Swami Satchidananda writes, “for a keen student this one Sutra would be enough because the rest of them just explain this one.” (3) Indeed, our blog derives its name from this Sutra. Nirodhaḥ means restraint in Sanskrit.
Put simply, yoga is the practice of restraining one’s own mind. When a person is completely in control, they are naturally content. Rocked by neither loss, nor desire. Lasting peace is attainable for everyone, though learning to control the mind is difficult. However, developing restraint is worth the trouble because difficulties appear whether we choose the peaceful path or not. At least by trying to attain peace we can use these difficulties to learn, instead of repeating patterns that don’t serve us when they arise.
Book one is an important foundation for anyone who wants to understand yogic philosophy. Patanjali explains various states of mind, the causes of suffering, methods to alleviate them, what obstacles might arise along this path, and how to achieve lasting peace. The next books of the Sutras go into detail about yogic practices and what a person gains by practicing. We’ll dive into those later.
This is a Jnana Yoga post, where you will find discussions of yogic philosophy and practice. Could I have made this post more clear or comprehensive? Let me know how I’m doing!
Erin Haddock is the director of Five Keys Yoga, LLC.