Studying the Yoga Sutras, 5 lines at a time


One of my mentoring teachers said a curious thing while I was training for my Intro II certification. She said that one of the best things she had ever done in her life was to memorize the Patanjali Yoga Sutras in Sanskrit. My teacher has accomplished much in her life, including opening and maintaining a successful studio for over ten years. So I took her words to heart and started my path committing these to memory. I am forging on to  learning five lines of Sutras in Sanskrit per week.

I am finding there are delightful resources and tools for accomplishing this goal both on the internet and through texts. Many years ago, I bought RIMYI published cassettes of the Yoga Sutras from my mentoring teachers. When you confront the Sutras in their original language, you quickly realize how brilliant Patajanli was to lay these deep statements down in what sounds like a song or poem in iambic pentameter. Chanting them makes you appreciate how every vowel and consonant sound is sharply pronounced, and how each sound creates a certain vibration.

By chanting them, you also tend to reflect on the meaning on a not-so-superficial level like you are when you are trying to memorize them for a test. I am beginning to realize that the cittavrtti (agitation of the mind stuff) can be as subtle as having your boss ask you to do something at work, and you identifying your whole being with that one task. Of course the Yoga Sutras say that our practice will stop this process so we can see our true selves more clearly.

Oddly enough, I find that when I study the Sutras, then work on writing my asana sequence for the next class, the thought process flows effortlessly. There have been times when I have agonized about building a sequence based on certain actions of each pose. The post-sutra sequence has all the nuance and progression as my sequences I designed before, but with a sense of confidence and precision that I seemed to lack prior to my Sutra studies.

As I am progressing from a beginning teacher to an intermediate teacher, I feel that deeper studies in the Sutras are essential. I am finding memorizing these Sutras to be an immensely enjoyable and difficult task. That may sound contradictory, but anyone who has learned asana from a point of stiffness, then experienced the freedom once that stiffness relents to the practice can understand this process.


8 thoughts on “Studying the Yoga Sutras, 5 lines at a time

  1. jecgenovese

    Reblogged this on peakmemory and commented:
    I like to highlight adults taking on demanding learning projects, in this case, memorize Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras in Sanskrit. His plan of breaking the task down into manageable segments is very sensible, in case learning 5 lines per week.



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