If you are a yoga teacher or devout student you have heard of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. If you aren’t as familiar here is a short explanation: it is a guidebook to yogic philosophy, living, and the eight limbs of yoga (ashtanga). It was written by a man named Patanjali many, many, many, many, many, many, many years ago. The word sutra means thread, and you can think about these words as threads of wisdom that weave your yoga life into a beautiful tapestry. If you want a little bit more then click here.
Until I went to yoga teacher training I had never heard of these sutras, even though I was a “serious” student. I had a read a few yoga books like Chakra Yoga by Alan Finger, browsed Light on Yoga, and a few other small books. The Yoga Sutras was part of our required reading list for my program and I’ll be honest–I didn’t read them. I got a copy, the wrong one, it was so confusing (as they are very difficult to understand naturally) that I just gave up. I never made it past Sutra 1.1: now is the time for yoga. If I wanted any info on a sutra I would just read a Clif Notes version on Yoga Journal or Yoga International. Last year I decided I would try the sutras again. So I bought the copy that I was suppose to in teacher training with every intention of picking it up–I never did. It collected dust with all my other books that I don’t read, haven’t read yet, kinesology textbooks, and poetry.
As I have talked about before on my social media pages my practice began to shift around last summer and hasn’t stopped. My practice grew deeper, not just physically but mentally. I was having questions about yoga all while facing my recovery and dealing with some serious anxiety. Then when I moved to OKC I started teaching more than I have before and my physical practice became more internal, so I picked up my sutras. I made a commitment to read a sutra a week. I was good for two weeks then I took time off, because #lifehappens, but I picked it back up because I am really committed to this.
My study is very simple. I have three versions of the yoga sutras (pictured below) and I read a sutra each week (or attempt to). I make stars with pink ink in the margins denoting phrases of super importance, highligting sanskrit words (always working on deepening those skills), and things that are very important I underline in black ink. I read the same sutra in each version and compare the them. Then in my own journal I write down in my own words what each sutra means. By writing them in my own language it helps to cement them into my mind and spirit to let me fully live them.
While I’m only five deep they have definitely been challenging and changing. Especially Sutra 1.3-1.4. They will be getting their own blog post at some point. I’m looking forward to where this will take me. If you have read or are reading the Yoga Sutras share your favorite resource in the comments section.