Before looking at Yoga Sutra 1.2, let’s first take a look at what the Yoga Sutras are and the history behind them.
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What are the Yoga Sutras?
The Yoga Sutras are guidelines for living a more purposeful and meaningful life. Patanjali, a sage, wrote the sutras over 1,700 years ago. Today, the sutras are thought of as the authoritative text of yoga. Even though they were written at a very different time, they can still easily be applied to our lives today.
To deepen your yoga practice, I would highly recommend studying the sutras. Studying the sutras could be done alone, or with yoga friends. You can get a copy of the Yoga Sutras on Amazon.
What is Yoga Sutra 1.2?
To hear the pronunciation of this sutra, please listen to this audio recitation by D.C. Rao, Ph.D.
Yoga Sutra 1.2 roughly translates to…
Yoga is the restriction of the fluctuations of consciousness. (translation by Georg Feuerstein)
What does Yoga Sutra 1.2 Mean?
Simply put, Yoga Sutra 1.2 means that when we do yoga, we keep our minds from wondering. This is not so easily done. However, there are tools that yoga provides us with that can help.
Asanas, the physical poses of yoga, are used to help release excess energy in the body. The body and mind are deeply connected. Therefore, if we can quiet the body, the mind will follow. Forward folds are great mind quieting asanas, especially seated forward folds.
Pranayama, breathing techniques, can also help us quiet the mind. This is best done after a yoga practice but could be done at any time.
A very simple way to practice this is one-to-one breathing. In one-to-one breathing, you have the same length of inhales and exhales.
Another favorite of mine is alternate nostril breathing or Nadi Shodhana. To do this, you close one nostril, inhale, switch nostrils, exhale, inhale, switch nostrils, exhale, inhale, etc.
You may have heard your yoga teacher referring to Ujjayi breathing throughout your asana practice. This breath is known as the Conqueror Breath. To do Ujjayi breathing, you exhale through your mouth, while slightly constricting the air flow. The result is a soft hissing sound. It is similar to fogging up a mirror with your breath. This is a great pranayama technique to use throughout your practice. Just make sure that it is quiet enough so that you don’t distract your neighbors in the yoga class.
A mantra is a sound, word, or phrase that is used for a desired effect. For example, Gayatri Mantra is used as an obstacle remover. It brings light to illuminate your path. This mantra is my personal favorite.
Here is the Deva Premal version, which is quite lovely.
Other mantras are:
- Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra: often used for 40 days following the death of a loved one
- Parayoga Invocation for Parashakti: often used prior to a yoga practice
Mudras are positions of the body, mostly hands, that are used to influence the energies of your body. For example, the Chinmaya Mudra is used for strengthening your digestive system.
This festive season, keep acidity, indigestion and bloating at bay. Strengthen your digestive system with the Chinmaya #mudra for five minutes every day.
Method: Form a ring with your thumb and forefinger. Curl the remaining fingers into the palms of your hands.#WeeklyTip pic.twitter.com/q0MNeCH0dW
— The Art of Living (@ArtofLiving) December 26, 2017
Other mudras are:
- Ganesha Mudra: used to relive stress and lighten your mood
- Garuda Mudra: used to culitivate discipline
Meditation has been used to quiet the mind for thousands of years. It takes dedication and persistence to develop an effective meditation practice. I would highly recommend searching through The Chopra Center Meditation Resources if you are interested in starting meditation. My personal favorite meditation tool is Headspace.
Simple Meditation Techniques
-Meditate on Your Breath: Start to notice the quality of your breath. Are there pauses or roughness that you notice? What is the rhythm? Do you have shorter inhales or exhales? Can you hear your breath? Can you feel your breath on your upper lip as you exhale?
–Be the Observer of Your Thoughts: As you meditate, watch your thoughts as if they are a movie. Ask yourself, who is it that is watching the thoughts?
I am very interested in the studying the sutras and have written about several of them. If you are also interested and would like to learn about other sutras, I would recommend reading Yoga Sutra 2.33 and the Happiness Trap.