I.2 योगश्चत्तवृत्तिनिरोधः

yogaś citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ
yogaḥ citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ
“Yoga is the removal of the patternings of the consciousness.”

Patañjali defines yoga and introduces the true subject of yoga: citta. Though often translated as “mind,” there is no good equivalent to this word in English. It comes from the root cit, to perceive, to observe, to know. Vyaas Houston refers to citta as “the individual life field.” This field is always in motion, and has limitless possibilities. Our thoughts, observations, reactions leave residue in the field that then determines what we perceive. The removal of this residue restores a free movement to citta. Yoga can be considered a return to an original state.

“There is built within the mind a chain of reactions. These reactive tendencies become our habits…. Yoga is a state of mind completely free from all reactive tendencies.” –commentary by Rohit Mehta, Yoga, The Art of Integration, p. 9

“Yoga shows ways of understanding the functionings of the mind, and helps to quieten their movements, leading one towards the undisturbed state of silence which dwells in the very seat of consciousness.” –commentary by B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali

“The very definition of yoga (nirodha) implies the removal of any constraints (vṛtti) on the essential creative substance that molds into all life forms (citta).” —Vyaas Houston, Yoga Sūtras: the Practice, p.6

• Have you learned more about your mind through the process of yoga?
• Have you had the experience of undoing a habit of your mind?
• How are habits of the mind related to habits of the body?
• Has yoga brought you increased freedom?



masculine noun, 1st case, sing.

yoga (from yuj, “to yoke, to connect”)


neuter noun in compound

mind, consciousness, life field (from cit, “to perceive, to observe, to know”)


feminine noun in compound

patterning of the mind, manner of thinking (from vṛt, “to abide, to move, to turn, to condition”)


masculine noun, 1st case sing.

ending, removal (from ni, “in” or “down,” + rudh, “stop” or “check”)

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