The Philosophy of Yoga

In this week’s post I introduce the key philosophical text of yoga, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. In future posts I will delve into more detail about some of the teachings of this wonderful text.

One of my first yoga teachers once said to me “People start taking yoga because of benefits they hope to find in their body. They stay with it because they find something more.”  That quote has always stuck with me, because I’ve found it to be so very true, not just for myself but for many I’ve taught over the years.

People in the West usually think of yoga as strictly a form of exercise. In reality, it is that and so much more! Yoga was originally developed as a method of calming the mind and connecting with the heart. These teachings are wonderfully conveyed in an ancient text called the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

Written sometime between 400 BC and 200 AD, this text describes in a compact and almost poetic form the teachings of yoga and how it can help us become more centered, balanced, clear and connected.

The first 2 sutras describe yoga’s purpose: Learning to control the random fluctuations of the mind. They then go on to describe how, in calming those random fluctuations, we can become more connected to our values—to who we truly are at our core—while being less influenced by our filters, projection, fears and anxieties.

This clarity of mind was the undeniable benefit I personally found in practicing yoga, long before I actually studied the sutras. I became clearer about who I am and the mark I want to leave on my world. Things that used to drive me crazy became interesting observations instead of painful traumas. Fears diminished. Courage returned. I’m not perfect by any means, but I’m hopefully getting a bit more balanced every day.

If you’re interested in exploring these teachings further, there are many wonderful translations and commentaries available. My personal favorite is The Essence of Yoga, by Bernard Bouanchaud. It is occasionally difficult to find in the United States, so I have some copies available it at Whole Life Yoga. But if you go to any major bookseller you will find many different translations of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali on their shelves.

Frugal yogis can also find many wonderful free translations on the internet. Swami J has a translation many of my students have found very useful. But my biggest advice is to be open to changes that happen as you continue your yoga practice. Listen to the voices of truth you may begin to hear. Yoga is not at all about achieving a certain posture.  Release the shackles of thinking that it is all about “stretching” or even “exercise.”  You likely will get stronger, leaner and more flexible. But the most powerful thing you can stretch is your mind!


Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle!

21 thoughts on “The Philosophy of Yoga

  1. Pingback: Yoga Teachings on Anxiety–A Teacher’s Personal Application | Whole Life Blog

  2. Pingback: Staying Balanced when Teaching Yoga–Response to a Student Question | Whole Life Blog

  3. Pingback: Overcoming the Klesas (Seeds of Suffering) | Whole Life Blog

  4. Pingback: The Gift of Depression | Whole Life Blog

  5. Pingback: Don’t Miss the Trees | Whole Life Blog

  6. Pingback: Yoga, Writing, and Persevering Practice | Whole Life Blog

  7. Pingback: Practicing Non-Attachment without Becoming Detached | Whole Life Blog

  8. Pingback: Ahimsa in Life—Lessons from the Tasha Dog | Tracy Weber: Whole Life Blog

  9. Pingback: Facebook, Community, and Joy–Found in Seattle | Tracy Weber: Whole Life Blog

  10. Pingback: Compassion in Actions, Words, and Thoughts | Tracy Weber – Whole Life Blog

  11. Pingback: Connecting With Your Inner Geode | Tracy Weber – Whole Life Blog

  12. Pingback: Thriving after Trauma | Tracy Weber – Whole Life Blog

  13. Pingback: Yoga Attachment, and Testing Error–Ode to a Bad Week | Tracy Weber – Whole Life Blog

  14. Pingback: Finding Contentment in Uncertainty | Tracy Weber – Whole Life Blog

  15. Pingback: Why I Hate Partner Yoga | Tracy Weber – Whole Life Blog

  16. Pingback: Does this Outfit Make Me Look Fat? A Facebook Controversy | Tracy Weber – Whole Life Blog

  17. Pingback: Why I hate partner yoga

  18. Pingback: Sunsets, Suffering, and Finding Peace | Tracy Weber – Whole Life Blog

  19. Pingback: Yoga, Writing, and Persevering Practice - Seattle Book Review

  20. Pingback: Everyone’s the Hero of Their Own Story | Tracy Weber - Whole Life Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *