Yoga Sūtra Chapter 1 Verse 2

Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 2
yogaḥ-citta-vṛitti-nirodaḥ |
Yoga is the containment of the movement of the psyche.

Courtesy Paul Harvey – Yoga Sūtra Translation

In addition to offering a greater understanding of the psyche, the Yoga Sūtra outline specific tools for creating change at the level of psyche. We can read, research, study, try to understand why things are the way we are and even after all of this, nothing fundamental may have changed in relation to how we feel and how we act.

Yoga provides practical tools for working at the level of both the physical and the psychological, to create physical and psychological change.

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Response to 3 Yoga Questions for a Media Article

The following post on Paul Harvey’s cYs Journal include insightful answers to questions typical of the type that are often asked in relation to Yoga.

A few months ago Paul was asked to provide ‘expert quotes’ in response to three questions for a media article by a freelance journalist for MSN on a Yoga related issue. Paul’s reflections below taken directly from the cYs Journal page.

Q1. What are some examples of illnesses or ailments that can improve or be cured with the use of Yoga?
“It is not possible to give examples of illnesses or ailments that can be improved as it all depends on the matrix of the person who may also have certain combinations of problems. A student with cancer may improve or a student with a history of colds may experience little change.

The viewpoint of Yoga is to look at people as individuals and work from there rather than the more usual view of making lists of problems with flash card like answers to a specific problem. e.g.. Sciatica, High Blood Pressure, Insomnia, Osteo-arthrosis, Chron’s Disease, etc.

Yoga says that we are all individuals who also have from time to time chronic or acute illnesses or ailments. In this view one hallmark is that the practice must be adapted to the individual and their current situation and immediate potential rather than expecting the individual to adapt to the practice.

This means that two individuals with the same symptoms may need very different approaches to practice and lifestyle choices because of their history, mindset and opportunity and intentions for implementing change.

Yoga also tells us that nothing is destroyed so nothing is ‘cured’. We can perhaps reduce the symptoms to the point where they are dormant. Given the right sun, soil and moisture they can ‘sprout’ again. So cure is not a term that can be applied.

Yoga Psychology says being symptom free also implies that we still have to take care as the seeds can be re-activated given the right stimuli.”

Q2. Is there a certain type of Yoga which is more beneficial, when it comes to health, than other types?
“Any approach to Yoga which facilitates meeting with a student, developing an understanding of their unique background, looking at the opportunities for change which exist for the student in the immediate and near future, being able to propose a personalised practice appropriate to their situation and meeting regularly to both review and progress the practice according to the experiences and feedback from the student.

This is really only realisable through 121 lessons, though not of the type offered by many which are comparable to a group class for one. A more comparable example would be to consulting a homeopath, or acupuncturist, or medical herbalist, or counsellor, where there is time, attention and personalised support and treatment offered.”

Q3. Is there a certain type of Yoga that can prove especially beneficial to those with asthma, and if so, why is this type of Yoga particularly good?
“As the physical basis of asthma is experienced through its effects on the breath, any approach that sees the breath as the canvas on which the pictures of the poses are painted could be helpful. Along with an approach that has the integral and intimate use of the breath in practice as a first priority, the study and application of the principles of Yoga Psychology would be very relevant to working with issues that could well underpin the students history of symptoms and personal experiences.”

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Learning from Life – Wisdom of the Yoga Sutra

Excerpts from an article by Paul Harvey published in cYs Journal exploring the wisdom of the Yoga Sūtra and the application of this wisdom to our everyday lives.

Yoga Sūtra I 5
The activities are fivefold and from them arise disturbance or composure.

“The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven….”
John Milton

The starting point for these deeper teachings is that all actions, including re-actions, can be a point of learning and growth even if the insight arises after the event. It is inevitable that our personal buttons, or old unhelpful and often repressed memories, will be pushed by ourselves, though we might project it onto others with such neat phrases as “look what you made me do!” Within this triggering process old patterns surface bringing with them unhelpful and defensive or aggressive attitudes which can leak into our responses. So rather than the ideal of foresight with skilful responses being in place and in readiness whatever the situation, we have the more realistic possibility of progressive levels of learning options starting with hindsight as our guide for insight.

Yoga as a Tool

Yoga as a View, Practice and Tool

Published in Spectrum, The Journal for the British Wheel of Yoga’ the following is an excerpt from the THIRD of a three part article by Paul Harvey cYs.

“Yoga as a tool is more likely to be the starting point for most students these days in that we often choose a style or approach to Yoga as a starting point in our Yoga experience. There are many, many choices these days, although the common denominator now appears to be based around Yoga teachers rather than Yoga teachings.

For example we can choose from Anusāra, Aṣṭāṅga, Bikram, Dru, Gītānada, Integral, Iyengar, Jīvamukti, Kripālu, Kuṇḍalinī, Sahaja, Scaravelli, Śivananda, Satyānanda, Viniyoga, etc.

Which is fine in itself. However the question that arises is how much do the various ‘types’ actually apply the Haṭha energetic principles of Practice in order to realize the View of Yoga? My own field of expertise lies within the teachings often referred to as Viniyoga, so I can only speak with experience from this perspective.

The primary principle here is that the Practices of Yoga must be adapted to the starting point, potential and needs of the student. Within this premise is a further question how, or even how much, the tools of Yoga utilize the Practice principles of Haṭha, in order to realise the View of Yoga as presented in what is seen as the primary teaching on the goal of Yoga, the Yoga Sūtra.”

Read more on Yoga as a Tool – The Art of viniyoga for developing a Personalized Practice

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Yoga as a Practice

Yoga as a View, Practice and Tool

Published in Spectrum, The Journal for the British Wheel of Yoga’ the following is an excerpt from the SECOND of a three part article by Paul Harvey cYs.

“Another irony in the emerging role and identity of Yoga in the West today is with regard to the term Haṭha Yoga. The term is mainly used generically these days to identify and group ‘physically’ based Yoga practices. As a teacher I am often asked in connection with the question what kind of Yoga do you teach, is it Haṭha Yoga?

The irony is that when we look at what Haṭha Yoga really is we find that the physical elements are relatively limited with very few Āsana discussed. Furthermore within the few discussed, the largest group are concerned with sitting, in preparation for practice elements other than Āsana. Here primarily to facilitate a quality of being able to sit still and as if move beyond the physical body.

Here the primary concern and field of activity for Haṭha Yoga practitioners is with regard to the energetic or ‘Prāṇa’ body and its role in helping to facilitate a quality of energetic ‘clarity’ and energetic ‘stillness’ ultimately as a ladder to support the practitioners exploration of meditational states of being.

The role of Haṭha is to help take the student towards the View and to help refine the View. What is important also is that we understand the various influences that exist in the West today in terms of ‘Yoga’. What seems to be in danger of being lost in all of this are the ‘energetic principles’ that underpin Haṭha Yoga because people have become very focused on the physicality, or even gymnastic type influences. It seems that modern Yoga practice is dominated by Āsana and the words Āsana and Yoga appears to have become sadly synonymous.”

Read more on ‘Yoga as a Practice’

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Yoga as a View

Yoga as a View, Practice and Tool

Published in Spectrum, The Journal for the British Wheel of Yoga’ the following are excerpts from the FIRST of a three part article by Paul Harvey.

“It is interesting these days that as a Yoga teacher the question I am more likely to be asked is ‘What kind of Yoga do you do?’ rather than ‘What is Yoga?’. It’s either that we think we already know what Yoga is or, more likely, that the view is becoming lost within the myriad of ways in which Yoga is offered.”

“In terms of what is presented as Yoga today where is the view? We need to have a view, we need to know how to access it and we need to know how to stabilise and sustain it.

In Yoga the View is explored most eloquently in the Yoga Sutra and its main focus is the relationship between two aspects that constantly interact in sustaining our sense of being and individuality. The two aspects are that of the perpetual activity of the mind or Citta and the ever present quality of stillness inherent within the awareness of Cit. When the Citta dominates we are more in the past than the present and when Cit dominates we are more in the present than the past.

The premise of the Yoga Sutra is that when the past takes over we are more liable to act and interact unskillfully. Even within different aspects of our Yoga practice when a disturbance arises it is because the past has taken over, a memory has arisen. However if there was no past there would be no Citta. Citta is like a vault full of past memories. Within this ever active process we want to create a space between impulse and reaction.”

Read more on ‘Yoga as a View

Questions about Yoga….

I like this post from ‘Paul’s Musings on Yoga Today’. Paul was recently asked to provide ‘expert quotes’ in response to three questions for a media article by a freelance journalist for MSN on a Yoga related issue. The questions are questions that are often asked in relation to Yoga. His reflections are thought provoking and reflect the intelligence and solid principles underpinning the application (viniyoga) of Yoga.

Paul Harvey – Wisdom of the Yoga Sūtra Part 2

Excerpt from a further article by Paul Harvey published in cYs Journal continuing the exploration of the wisdom of the Yoga Sūtra.

The Yoga Sūtra’s “nearly 200 verses are arranged in a linked developmental structure over four chapters and look at the mind and its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within a skillful or unskillful life. It’s opening chapter looks at the question of knowing the mind and acknowledging it as something we can harness to work for us towards a deeper relationship with the source of our being, that essential essence known as awareness.

The second chapter approaches the routes to start to refine a mind that is problematic and unharnessed in its potential. This is through looking at our life and our habits and introducing lifestyle shifts and personal practices which allow us to gather more skillfully the helpful aspects of the mind and be less caught in its unhelpful patterns.

The third chapter tells us that a mind that has been refined through better food and lifestyle, plus establishing an āsana and prāṇāyāma practice can be further refined and directed to subtler aspects of itself and life around us through the practice of meditation. Within the chapter are many meditational possibilities for such a mind to further refine it’s unhelpful patterns so that it works more for us and we less for it.

The fourth chapter again takes us a step further by re-minding us that the goal of Yoga is to go beyond the habits and patterns of the mind whether helpful or unhelpful. Whilst also emphasising that it is the mind itself, once refined, that is the primary tool for bringing about this shift within our relationship with our inner power or Self-resources.”

Paul Harvey – Wisdom of the Yoga Sūtra Part 1


Excerpts from an article by Paul Harvey published in cYs Journal exploring the wisdom of the Yoga Sūtra and the application of this wisdom to our everyday lives.

“Buried within the rich traditions of “on the mat” Yoga practice are many teachings with advice and reflections on how to live more creatively whilst off the mat so to speak.”

“According to the teachings of Yoga, the postural practices of āsana, the breathing practices of prāṇāyāma, and other seated practices of meditation or dhyānam such as chant or japam (repetition of mantra) or reflecting on subtle aspects of attitudes or natural phenomena, sit within a framework of daily living and its constant dynamic of helpful actions and positive responses or unhelpful actions and negative re-actions.”