The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is the foundational text of Raja Yoga. It is comprised of 196 aphorisms which were originally transmitted orally and put to paper by the Sage Patanjali approximately 2000 years ago. This text is actually more of an experiential workbook that reveals a clarity and understanding of the true nature of our existence, thereby eliminating suffering as we evolve in our experiences. The text is divided into four sections - the second section being where the eight limbs of yoga (“Ashtanga” asta=8, anga=limb) are outlined. The 3rd limb is posture (asana), which is how most of us come to begin our yoga practice. The Yogastha Sadhana method of practice offers detailed study into the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali for those students looking to ground their yoga practice beyond the mat and into a more profound philosophical basis of what practice reveals.
Yoga Sutra Chant
Below is a guided call and response chant on each of the 4 sections of the Yoga Sutras. The silence after each chanted sutra can be used for learning the sankrit chant or for a moment of contemplation before hearing the english translation.
The first chapter of the Yoga Sutras is called Samadhi Pada (the portion on meditative absorption) and outlines what yoga is all about: the attainment of the Samadhi state. Much theory regarding the basis for this practice is developed here; but not entirely without practical application - such as “practice and non-attachment” (1.12), the need for a one-pointed practice (1.32), and the guidance of how to treat others we meet on our path (1.33).
Samadhi Pada Chant:
The second chapter of the Yoga Sutras is called Sadhana Pada (the portion on practice) and develops the actual daily practices that define the yogic path. The beginning of this section describes the cause of suffering as being our ignorance of our True self. The first 5 of the 8 limbs of yoga are outlined in this chapter as guidance out of our predicament of being identified with our egoic suffering.
Sadhana Pada Chant:
Chapter 3 is called Vibhuti Pada (the portion on accomplishments) and describes the powerful effects that result when this practice is taken to its fullest development. While some of these claims may seem outlandish to an onlooker of the sutra text, the described development is clearly from the power that the fully concentrated mind possesses, and thus, the final 3 limbs are reserved for this section as a description of one who has traveled well down this path. The sophistication of this practice of yoga is in its prescription for the practitioner to work with clarity and focus within their current “reality”, and done so properly, with time and discipline, the relationship with that “reality” begins to expand to that which is more universal. This is something any consistent practitioner on the yoga mat can attest to with regards to the body’s strength or flexibility. Early in one’s practice, the aches, pains and suffering on the mat is more dominated by, and unique to, the individual; and over time, one’s poses begin to look much more like the poses of their teacher, and/or other more developed yogis. This is the move from the limits of the individual to the expanse of the universal. Patanjali, along with other yoga masters, assures us that the nature of this expansion is certainly not limited to just yoga postures.
Vibhuti Pada Chant:
The 4th chapter of the Yoga Sutras is called Kaivalya Pada (the portion on absolute unity) and guides the yogi into what is revealed on the other end of the Self discovery process. It is only in our presence as a pure conscious being that we are fully liberated from our egoic restlessness. Here we give up all our struggles as a human doing, having and possessing...and come to know once again life as a human being.