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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Translations, Belief Frameworks & Modern Yoga Practice

Mark Singleton author Yoga Body, the Origins of Modern Posture Practice (Oxford University Press, 2010) in conversation with Susan Maier-Moul – The Magazine of Yoga. Mark’s “writing and teaching provide a bridge between the concerns of academia and those of practice.”

Part 1 of the conversation focuses on the difficulty with translation of Sanskrit texts, with particular reference to the Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali and how it can be influenced by the prevailing belief framework.

“Words amplify and change their meaning according to the other words around them. Phrases amplify and change their meaning according to the other phrases around them. And paragraphs change their meaning according to the other paragraphs around them. A good translation is one that is aware of these contexts within and around the text in question, and self-critical with regard to the particular choices that are available to the translator.” Read part 1 of the conversation

To begin to appreciate the depth of knowledge contained within the Yoga Sūtra requires more than mere translation of the words, it requires intelligent interpretation with the guidance of a teacher.

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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 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

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.”