Where is the original Patanjali Yoga Sutra

Patanjali Yoga Sutras: Yoga philosophy explained in a practical way

Even if almost all yoga styles are now very physical, most yoga teachers refer to the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali *, which was the first written down of yoga about 2000 years ago. In the Yoga Sutra the royal road of Yoga (Raja Yoga) described. It is like a step-by-step guide to liberation. This script, which is still astonishingly up-to-date today, is based on 8 partsAshtanga Yoga Marga). Today I would like to give you a very small insight into the yoga philosophy and show you how it can support your yoga and meditation practice - whatever technique or tradition. And basically your whole life.

At the beginning of the yoga sutra, Patanjali sums up what yoga is in one sentence:

Sutra I, 2: "yogaś citta-vrtti-nirodha”-“ Yoga (oneness) is the coming to rest of the constantly moving thought patterns of the mind ”.
By now at the latest it should be clear to everyone that yoga has a lot more to do with meditation than with physical exercises.

The way to this calm mind, in which the unity is experienced, leads through the following 8 limbs of yoga. These should (according to Patanjali) be practiced regularly, but with a feeling of detachment and non-attachment (Abhyasa and Vairagya). Patanjali describes 8 limbs in the Yoga Sutra, not stages, because they are basically practiced in parallel and not in a linear sequence.

The first two links - Yama and Niyama - are something like the "10 commandments of yoga". The point here is less to dogmatically adhere to given rules. It is rather the case that Patanjali also learned a lot through observation. He has probably observed what qualities enlightened yogis have and from them those Yamas and Niyamas derived. Now I would like to give you a small overview of the 8 levels of Raja Yoga according to Patanjali.


1. Yama: Moral and ethical behavior

The following 5 yogic guidelines support us in our yoga and meditation practice by not causing unrest in ourselves or in others. If we live against our inner morals, we have to do internally with our conscience and the processing of our actions. Inner peace then becomes a long way off.


Ahimsa - non-violence

Nonviolence is of particular importance because it is the first of all “rules”. It is the basis for our inner peace. This not only includes non-violence towards other living beings (which is why most yogis are also vegetarians), but also towards themselves. It should be clear that your well-being should be your top priority in yoga. Never do yourself violence, do not force anything and respect your limits! In my experience, when meditating, there is also a great danger of becoming violent against yourself. This not only applies to inflicting pain through incorrect sitting, but also to dealing with one's own inadequacies, which one quickly becomes aware of while meditating. If you abuse yourself because your thoughts have strayed again, it is definitely a serious act of violence. For me, loving mindfulness is the key to meditation, yoga of the heart and a happy life.


Satya - Truthfulness

In yoga we truly encounter ourselves. It's about perceiving the truth. Really perceive. To accept what is. Not telling yourself what is not. It's not that easy, because the thoughts are pretty tricky. If we are not really vigilant (and who can be vigilant all the time?), Subjectively colored thoughts creep in very quickly that no longer have much to do with the truth.
Even if we do not live truthfully in everyday life, perhaps lying to other people, we continue to distance ourselves further and further and thus take the opposite path of calming down through meditation. Both are simply not compatible. When you take the path of meditation, you need to become more honest with yourself and with others. But you probably will automatically as soon as you meditate regularly.


Asteya - not stealing

Someone who steals from other people will not find peace of mind. He cannot find himself at all because he has to split off a part of himself in order not to get a guilty conscience.
Non-stealing can also be understood in a somewhat broader way. It's not just about claiming something physically or mentally for yourself that doesn't belong to you. It also means encountering envy and greed within yourself. With regard to meditation practice, the question arises whether I absolutely have to have the same experience as another meditator.


Aparigraha - Not hoarding, not grasping, being moderate

Similar to Asteya it is also possible with moderation Aparigraha about not giving space to greed. This primarily refers to collecting and hoarding things for fear of not being able to have enough. This attitude cuts us and others off from the fullness of life. We feel separate, not enough, inferior. We try to compensate for this with the accumulation of property of all kinds, for which some companies even exploit people or nature. We forget the essential values ​​of life and our inner values. But it is precisely our inner values ​​that lead us wonderfully on the path of meditation, on the path of yoga.
If we Aparigraha Looking at something in the sense of wanting to achieve something can be extremely hindering in our meditation. Then we are constantly thinking about the future instead of resting in the here and now. If you Aparigraha realized, you are no longer chasing after enlightenment or whatever.

Brahmacharya - Walking in the divine, all doing in harmony with the higher self

Brahmacharya does not mean - as is often claimed - sexual abstinence. Rather, it means immoral abstinence. It means that you do not go against yourself, but act in harmony with your divine self. Realized at a higher level means Brahmacharyathat one is constantly aware of the divinity of life and, so to speak, “walks in the divine” - no matter what one is doing. For most people, the easiest way to experience the awareness of the divine is through meditation. In these moments we are aware that everything is one and everything we do to others, we do to ourselves. It is even the other way around - if we are bad to ourselves, we are also damaging those around us.


2. Niyama: 5 disciplines of the mind

The following 5 “rules”, so to speak, prepare the ground for our meditation and yoga practice. They form the framework in which the experience can unfold in the best possible way.


Saucha - purity

Saucha means keeping the body as well as the mind pure. This not only means that I ensure good personal hygiene, that I am not contaminated and natural, and that I am clean, but that I also pay attention to what kind of spiritual nourishment I consume. Do I pick up any rubbish that is spread in the media or do I consciously choose which images and thoughts I let inside me? In meditation you become particularly aware of all the spiritual junk that you have let into yourself. But meditation is also the right way to get rid of it.


Santosha - Serene calm, contentment

Santosha means adopting a serene attitude of mind towards people, things and experiences. It is an art to be satisfied with what it is and what we have. It is a decision to stay calm even in difficult situations and not to let judgments or worries spoil your mood. The basis for this is that we accept our own imperfections as well as those of other people and do not lose sight of what is essential. We can do wonderful things in meditation Santosha cultivate by looking at ourselves and our thoughts and feelings with loving mindfulness.

tapas - Discipline, rhythm, heat that arises from it

Tapas literally means “heat”. What is meant is a heat that is created by regular repetitions, just like you stoke a fire. If you enjoy a nice fire, you will be happy to feed it with new logs on a regular basis. But you must have the will to take care of this fire. Otherwise it goes out. The basis of any yoga and meditation practice is that you practice regularly.


Svadhyaya - Self-study, reflection

Svadhyaya means to reflect on oneself, to critically question one's own thoughts and opinions. It means walking the path of truth and perceiving what is without judgment. In meditation you know yourself wonderfully. The deeper you get, the more you recognize your true self - far away from thoughts and opinions. You will be able to experience this all the more, the more conscious you are of your ego personality.


Ishvara Pranidhana - Devotion to the divine / to the highest / to a higher power

Ishavara pranidhana means devotion to the divine or to the highest that one can imagine. It does not have to be God, it can also be one's own higher self, life or a vision of something greater than the current limited space of experience. It's about rising from the little ego thinking and living for something higher than this limited self. This is how we find our true selves. Originally, meditation has something very religious about it, even if it is not limited to one religion. Because meditation is a way to encounter your own divinity. Whoever wants to find God has to become still and search within himself. We do not find God outside, but through meditation we understand that God is in us - yes, that we are God ourselves. Nowadays meditation is often detached from the religious context, which is also very good. Because everyone is allowed to find their own way to their own religion.


3. Asana - postures

The physical exercises (Asana) are the most famous part of yoga in this country. Through the physical exercises we free our body from imbalances and tension and clean the energy channels. With the asanas we prepare body and mind wonderfully for the sitting meditation. I can only recommend everyone who meditates to practice yoga regularly. This will make your meditation practice a lot easier - you will probably feel it right after the first time. For sitting, in particular, it is very relieving when muscles and fasciae can do their work in a balanced manner. For example, it is so important that the breathing spaces are clear, the core muscles are strong and the hips are stretched.


4. Pranayama - breath

Pranayama is the conscious control of the life energy through breathing work. As soon as we breathe deeply and consciously, we practice Pranayama. During breathing, not only is oxygen moved through our body, but also Prana - pure life energy. The more we free our breath, the more we flow with life. Conscious breathing relaxes (if it doesn't do you good and relaxes, you shouldn't force it!) Or energize and has a great cleansing effect on body and mind. The breathing exercises prepare the mind wonderfully for meditation.

During the actual meditation practice, however, the breath should not be consciously guided. The breath is only observed and left completely free. For the pranayama practice it is important to experience the difference between breathing observation and conscious deepening of the breath. With all forced pranayama exercises, meditative breath observation before and after the exercise is always part of the process - just as tracing the asanas increases the meditative aspect and the effect.
If you concentrate on the perception of your breath at the beginning of your mediation, you will experience the withdrawal of the senses (Pratyahara) much easier to enter your inner space of meditation.


5. Pratyahara - withdrawal of the senses

Pratyahara means being able to withdraw into oneself and just let the outside world be the outside world. The senses are gently shifted from external perception to internal perception. Without this withdrawal of the senses it is not possible for us to meditate. Otherwise we will be distracted from external sensory perception all the time. In order to be able to consciously withdraw the senses, however, we first have to develop more awareness of them, immerse ourselves in them and experience them in depth. Then we can deal with them freely, enjoy them or just withdraw into ourselves. If you have difficulty detaching yourself from the outer sensory world, I recommend the meditation exercise Antara Mauna I (at the end of this article) at the beginning of your meditation practice.

From here the actual meditation practice begins. In yoga these last 3 limbs are called "Samyama " - the inner collection - summarized.


6. Dharana - concentration

Since the mind tends to wander all the time, it is important to give it focus. The focus on this focus point is Dharana. There are many possibilities for a focus of concentration and each individual has a special focus of consciousness development. The most common focus point is to observe the breath at a specific point on the body. The process of dharana involves constantly bringing attention back to that focus point. At this stage of meditation, it is normal for thoughts to wander again and again. With a regular meditation practice, the mind becomes more and more calm and we can go into the deeper levels of meditation - Dhyana and Samadhi - immerse.


7. Dhyana - Meditation, higher state of consciousness

When we experience the sustained and expanded awareness, that is Dhyana - meditation. In this state our mind is very clear and still and we become pure perceivers, observers. It is a state of knowledge in which we are relatively free from desires and dislikes. Our minds, usually influenced by opinions, evaluations, imprints and projections, have become silent. Yes, it is a state of freedom - real, inner freedom. We perceive things without judging and without being attached to them in any way. As soon as we get attached to this state, we instantly lose it again.


8. Samadhi - Immersion, state of enlightenment

The final state of yoga or meditation is the state of enlightenment Samadhi, of which there are again different levels. Here we are no longer just silent observers, but we merge completely with what we are observing or with the entire universe. All boundaries dissolve here. In this state we experience the all-unity. We learn that we are God ourselves. We learn that any sense of separation is an illusion. Everything is interconnected - interwoven in the great web of life.

It is difficult for people who do not meditate and do not know this samadhi state to grasp that everything is one, that there is basically no separation. And even for us humans, who we experience this again and again in meditation, it always seems impossible to maintain this awareness in everyday life. It is all the more important not to forget what we have experienced and to continue meditating - in order not to lose our connection to the bigger picture or to remind ourselves of it again and again. To remind us how free and limitless we actually are.


I hope I was able to bring you a little closer to the yoga philosophy according to Patanjali. For deepening, I recommend the book "Patanjali Yoga Sutra" * by Sriram.

If you want to continue on the path of meditation and / or yoga, I offer you a lot of supportive options. The first step is to register in my newsletter - you will then immediately receive effective meditation instructions. Then you won't miss anything - not even my new book “Meditation Made Easy”, which will be published soon, with the accompanying online course.