What is Yoga?

Why “Verapose”?
May 7, 2015
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What is Yoga?

Hi Fellow Yogis!

As you are well aware, the term yoga has become a broad definition to us Instagram-loving Westerners.  In Sanskrit, the translation of yoga means “to yolk or union.”  What yoga brings together is truly up to each individual and their journey on the path of yoga.

Over the next few weeks we will explore the various definitions of yoga, from the ancient to the modern.  Please join us to see how these definitions can add to your practice!


Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.2

Pantanjali was an ancient scholar, and thought to be the first individual to record the practice of yoga in a written form at least 1,700 years ago.  His sutras (Sanskrit, for “thread”), are still used today to build and enhance the teachings and practices of yoga.

Sutra 1.2: yogas citta vrittis nirodhah.  The restraint of the mind-stuff, that is yoga. (Translation by Swami Satchidananda)

This sutra tells us that yoga is the quieting of the mind.  Anything that floats into the mind with or without intention is considered the chittam.  These fluctuations of the mind are common, and are not a cause for concern.

Swami Satchidananda states that this sutra will only be enough to guide the yogic journey for those only born as pure yogis.  For the great majority of us, quieting the mind is a life-long endeavor.  (not for the faint of heart!)

Though the challenge of quieting the mind can seem overwhelming, the concept of yoga happens in small increments over periods of time.  As we may have noticed in our practice, there are savasanas where we immediately fall into a space of peace and quiet, and others where the mind continues to churn.  This all a part of the practice.

The remaining 194 sutras describe strategies for calming the mind in order to make that ultimate connection with our true selves.  Though this seems challenging, there are countless strategies that you have probably seen or experienced in your yoga classes, or in your own personal practice.

Here are four basic tips for beginning the practice of quieting the mind:

  • Focus on the breath: with closed eyes focus on the how the breath flows in and out of the body. When the mind wanders, gently guide it back to the breath.
  • Light a candle: Focus all the sense on the flame, allow the mind to soften.
  • Slow the breath: allow your exhale to be slightly longer than the inhale, calming both the body and the mind.
  • Mantra: use a mantra that you repeat out loud or in the mind.  OM is a beautiful place to start.  “Sat” on the inhale and “Nam” on the exhale, translating to “I am.”

We would love to know how you personally work with Sutra 1.2?  What are your personal tips for quieting your own chittam?  We’d love to hear from you!

Hari Om

Post by Katie Hoener, MSW, RYT-500, Mommy to two gorgeous pit-bulls and Verapose partner