Uncategorized,  Yoga Philosophy,  Yoga Sutras

Why Are the Yoga Sutras So Dry and Boring?

Love this from Sadhguru:

Over the generations, the science of yoga took on a life of its own and branched off into hundreds of systems. When Patanjali came, he saw that it had become too complex and diversified for anyone to grasp in a meaningful way. So, he codified all aspects of yoga into a certain format known as the Yoga Sutras. This is a collection of 196 sutras on yoga. And so, Patanjali is known as the father of modern yoga.

“Sutra” literally means “a thread.” Or, in modern language, we can say it is like a formula. Anyone who knows the English alphabet, even a kindergarten child, can say “E=mc².” But, there is an enormous amount of science behind that little formula which most people cannot understand. The sutras are like this. Out of ignorance, people have interpreted these sutras in very superficial ways and have tried to implement them in their lives accordingly. The thread is vital for a necklace or a garland, but it is not a goal by itself. No one ever wears a garland for the sake of the thread. It was for each spiritual master to put his own kind of flowers, beads, pearls, diamonds, or whatever else in the garland.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are the most tremendous documents about life in the world, and also the most uninteresting. It is the driest and dullest book you could possibly read. Patanjali did this intentionally; though his mastery of language and composition was matchless, he wrote it in a way that no scholar would find it appealing. If people appreciate the literary, poetic aspects of the work, then all kinds of people would naturally read and misinterpret it. They would miss the fundamental purpose of the sutra – a formula to open up life. The sutra means something only to a person who is in a certain level of experience, and who wants to explore his consciousness. Each sutra is a method. You do not have to read all of them. If just one sutra becomes a reality within you, it will take you into a completely new dimension of experience.

If you look at Patanjali in terms of his enlightenment, he cannot be more enlightened than someone else. There is no such thing. Realization is realization. But as a man of intellect, he is probably one of the greatest who walked this planet. The breadth of his understanding of life is so vast that today’s scholars argue that everything he wrote could not have been just one man’s work, that many people must have contributed to it. No, it is just one man’s work.

To give you some idea of the kind of a man he was, look at the way he begins the Yoga Sutras. Such a great document of life starts in a strange way. The first chapter is just half a sentence, not even a full sentence: “…and now, Yoga.” What do you make of it? Intellectually, it does not make much sense, but experientially, it is telling you that if you still think that building a new house or getting your daughter married or winning a lottery will settle your life, it is not yet time for yoga. If you have seen power, wealth and pleasure, if you have tasted everything in your life and realized that nothing is going to fulfill you ultimately, then it is time for yoga. All the aspects that the whole world is engrossed in, Patanjali brushes aside with just half a sentence. Only when you understand that nothing has worked, when you do not have a clue as to what the hell life is about, and when the pain of ignorance tears you apart – “…and now, Yoga.” Sadhguru http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/yoga-meditation/history-of-yoga/sadhguru-on-patanjali-sushruta-panini/

This brings up great questions. Is Yoga for everyone? Yes, everyone can benefit from Yoga but does accessibility result in watered down information?  Is this actually good for us in the long run? A lot of people practice asana but are there a lot of people practicing Yoga?

Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail shanna@shannasmallyoga.com.