Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras A Definition of Yoga


Joshua Michaell

The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali is the quintessential yogic text. Comprised of 196 potent aphorisms, the Yoga Sūtras provide a roadmap of freedom and liberation from suffering. Each sūtra “thread” can be seen as a delicious morsel of dehydrated truth that needs to be “chewed on” with heart and mind in order to be understood. Only then can the true flavor and the wisdom within be released. The second sūtra of the first book (YS 1:2) is “yogaś citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ” — Patañjali’s definition of yoga. A common and in my opinion, somewhat dubious translation of this is, “yoga is stopping the mind.” In fact, when I began practicing yoga, this was my understanding of the meaning of this sūtra. I just needed to figure out how I was going to stop my mind.

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Joshua Michaell teach Sanskrit, Yoga Philosophy & Meditation, and lead workshops and Teacher Trainings throughout the US and abroad. He is also a licensed psychotherapist with a Transpersonal and Yoga Psychology-based counseling practice in San Francisco and Marin County, CA.’s-yoga-sutras-a-definition-of-yoga.aspx