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Yoga Sutras For Modern Day Life: Yoga Was a Science Way Before It Became a Workout

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 2:19- The stages of the Gunas are specific, non specific, defined and undefinable.


Defining the Sutra



I spoke about the Gunas in previous posts. A simple way to look at the Gunas is that they are the characteristics of nature. In this verse Patanjali talks about the stages of nature. Be forewarned my Yoga Sutra purist friends, I am about to seriosuly oversimplify this.

Undefinable: Pure potential. No definable form. Example. Pre big bang. The second verse of Genesis in the Bible, “And the earth was without form, and void.”

Defined: Slightly more manifested but still hard for the average person to interact with.  Example: Right after the big bang. The second verse of Genesis in the Bible, “and darkness was upon the face of the deep”. God was starting to define things but humans still could not exist in it.

Non Specific: This is where nature forms into the subtle senses like the mind (not brain). We cannot touch our mind but we use it.

Specific: All the stuff we can taste, touch smell, feel see and hear.

Modern Day Application

What I love about verses like this is that they show just how “advanced” the Yogis were. The Yoga Sutras are dated back to about 400 CE. This knowledge existed before that. This was just Patanjali writing it down.  Before science started talking about atoms, spooky action at a distance and Quantum Physics, there was Samkhya philosophy. The Yogis  of the Samkhya school were thinking about matter way before the 1800’s when modern scientists started making their big discoveries. Yoga was a science and a way of life way before it was a workout.

Why is This Important?

To be real, it is important because Patanjali is going to use it to define some other things later on so stay tuned. LOL

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.