This is the first in what I hope to be a series of posts exploring the Yoga Sutras which form a way to explore Raja Yoga. In this section I look at the first chapter which looks at contemplation.
Yoga is ultimately about the mind, it’s understanding and gaining mastery over it. Nothing is gained unless one practices regularly. A calm mind is the aim, even in the midst of being busy and attending to life you can have a calm mind or at least notice when your not and come back to it. This chapter points out that the breath plays an important role in maintaining a calm mind. This is because the mind and breath are linked, and it’s easier to control the mind through controlling the breath, than it is by trying to control the mind directly.
It goes on to explore the the five kinds of mental modifications and says that these can be restrained through development of non-attachment. Non-attachment is not to be confused with dis-interest. Non-attachment is about being able to be an observer and then act, instead of reacting without care and attention, it can involve the heart and compasionate nature.
After this, obstacles to a calm mind, and how to understand and gain mastery over the mind is revealed. These objects can be restrained by concentration on a single object, which in essence is meditation. There are many forms of meditation. It also looks at things that accompany the obstacles.
In essence this chapter states that yoga is practice, and to quote Satchidinanda “Restraint of the modifications of the mind stuff is yoga” although I prefer it when he phrases it as “Yoga – namely, the understanding and complete mastery over the mind.”
It’s important to point out at this stage that meditation and yoga practice in general can be accomplished during daily life and the activities associated with daily life. Antar Mouna is a meditation practice you can do in formal meditation eventually extends into daily life as a continues practice. Karma yoga is another example of yoga as part of daily life. The Vigyana Bhairava Tantra is yet another way to include yoga into daily life. Although some of the sutras in chapter 2, and books like the Bhagavad Gita can inspire one to approach life from a different perspective thus shifting us into a more human way of being.
Thats all for now.
Posted in Raja Yoga (Yoga Sutras)