Ah, summer. The days are getting sunnier (even as they grow shorter!) and the desire to spend more time outdoors exploring this and that is strong. But how do we go out and still remain connected within? Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras offers us a framework for doing just that, a tangible way to carry our practice off the mat and into our lives.
At the beginning of this year I began a weekly examination of the Yoga Sutras within all of my asana classes. We started at the beginning of the book and are working our way, sutra by sutra, to the end. We’re about 1/3 of the way through the 1st chapter at this point and reaching one of my favorite sections of the book, where Patanjali expounds the practices we undertake in route towards nirodha – the stilling of the mind. He begins by telling us that the path is this way and then in the next sutra he say, OR, it is this way and then in the following sutra he says, OR, it is this way, and this goes on for about 15 sutras. I appreciate the idea that there isn’t one set path to reach ourselves and that every way is a way inward, if we choose. So, whether we are on the mat in downward dog or walking the dog in the park, the option and ability to cultivate greater consciousness and compassion is right there with us and the Yoga Sutras can offer us the guideline towards that exploration.
Starting your day with the reading of just one sutra is a simple and quick way to orient yourself, set the tone for the day and deepen your practice. My favorite translation and commentary is Four Chapters on Freedom by Swami Satyananda Saraswati (published by the Bihar School of Yoga). Last I checked we had a couple copies at the boutique in Capitol Hill, so if you are interested in some summer reading and allowing your practice to spill over into your daily life, check it (or other variations) out or pop into one my classes (at all three studios) and explore the Sutras in a more formal setting.
Posted by: Jen Yaros