Study Guide


A guide to The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali in the original Sanskrit. Here are tools to help the student of this great text develop his or her own personal reading. Find below links to the sūtras in order (with my English translation). For the most recent posts, visit the Blog.

Pāda One

I.1 – Now the teaching of yoga.

I.2 – Yoga is the removal of the patternings of consciousness.

I.3 – Then there is a standing in the true form of the seer.

I.4 – Otherwise, there is identification with old patterning.

I.5 – There are five types of imprint in the mind. They can be harmful or not-harmful.

I.6 – They are right perception, wrong perception, imagination, sleep, and memory.

I.7 – Right perception is from direct observation, inference, or reliable testimony.

I.8 – Wrong perception is false knowledge, based on a form that is not.

I.9 – Imagination arises from knowledge based on an idea. It is without a real object.

I.10 – Sleep is supported by a thought-wave toward not-being. It also conditions the mind.

I.11 – Memory is not letting objects of experience be stolen away.

I.12 – The state of yoga (nirodha) happens by means of abhyāsa and vairagya.

I.13 – Practice (abhyāsa) is the effort to be steady there.

I.14 – And, it (abhyāsa) becomes well-grounded when it is returned to over a long time, without interruption, and with intention to discover the truth .

I.15 – Vairāgya is experienced by one who has thirstlessness for the things he or she has seen or heard. It is an understanding of mastery.

I.16 – The higher form of that (vairāgya) is acceptance of the essential qualities of nature. It comes from a realization of who one is.

I.17 – [Nirodha] is samprajñāta (with thought) when it connects to forms and is accompanied by reasoning, intuition, joy, and a sense of ‘I am.’

I.18 – The other [nirodha] is preceded by the practice of a movement toward cessation [of thoughts]. A residue of thought impressions will remain.

I.19 – For those who have had an out-of-body experience or a realization of the primary, unmanifest elements of creation, a movement toward becoming is necessary.

I.20 – For others, [nirodha] is preceded by faith, strength, memory, absorption, and insight.

I.21 – It is near for those with enthusiasm.

I.22 – And there will still be a uniqueness, based on each person’s tendency toward gentleness, moderation, or extremity.

I.23 Or, [nirodha is near] from the act of turning to the source (īśvara).

I.24 Īśvara is a distinction of self that is untouched by afflictions, by actions and their consequences, and by the subsequent deposits on the consciousness.

I.25 There [in īśvara] is the incomparable seed of all knowledge.

I.26 That [īśvara], unlimited by time, is the teacher also of the ones who came before us.

I.27 The speech of that [īśvara] is OM.

I.28 The repetition of that [OM] brings a realization of its meaning.

I.29 From [the repetition of OM], there is attainment of inward-directed consciousness and also the removal of obstacles [to that inward connection].

I.30 Disease, stagnancy, doubt, lack of care, low energy, boundarilessness, delusion, inability to hold ground, instability–these are disturbances of citta. They are obstacles.

I.31 Pain, depression, and the agitation of the body and breath–inhalation and exhalation– accompany these disturbances.

I.32 To the purpose of preventing the obstacles, the practice of one thing.

I.33 Embodying friendliness toward (the object of) happiness, compassion toward pain, joy toward virtue, and presence and attention toward vice brings the clarification of citta.

I.34 Or, by the sending forth and receiving in of prāṇa.

I.35 Or, a direct perception (pravrtti) of an object that has arisen and that fastens the steadiness of the mind.

I.36 Or, [a pravṛtti] that is sorrowless and filled with light.

I.37 Or, a citta whose thoughts have transcended passion.

I.38 Or, the support of the knowledge from dreams and sleep.

I.39 Or, by meditation as desired.

I.40 Coming into command of these methods brings an expansion to the smallest particle and to the infinitely great.

I.41 When the disturbances have diminished, the citta becomes like a fine jewel. The perceiver, the perception, and the perceived become as one as the citta focuses on the object and is saturated by it. This is samāpattiḥ.

I.42 There, savitarka samāpatti is [the saturation which is] mixed with word, meaning, knowledge, and conceptualization. It is samāpatti “with thought.”

I.43 Nirvitarka [samāpatti] happens on the purification of memory. It is as though [citta] empties itself of identity. There is a shining of the object alone.

I.44 By this, [the samāpatti] that applies to subtle objects, [and can be described as] savicāra and nirvicāra, is explained.

I.45 And subtle objects extend all the way to the unmanifest.

I.46 These [samāpatti], indeed, are samādhi with seed.

I.47 In the proficiency of nirvicāra, there is a ripening toward the calmness and kindness of the inner self.

I.48 In that place, there is wisdom, the knowledge that carries truth within it.

I.49 [This prajñā has] another object than [that of] the knowledge from words or inference. It has a distinct aim.

I.50 Born of that [prajñā], a saṁskāra that checks other saṁskāras.

I.51 On the nirodha of even that [imprint]–which follows from the nirodha of all–seedless samādhi.

Pāda Two

II.1 The actions of yoga are discipline, self-study, and trust in the source of one’s being.

II.2 [The actions of yoga are for] the purpose of realizing samādhi and the purpose of thinning the kleśas.

II.3 Not-knowing, the question ‘who am I?’, obsession, fear, and the will to survive–these are the kleśas.

II.4 Not-knowing is the field of the others–sleeping, weakened, interrupted, or in full fury.

II. 5 Avidyā [not-knowing] is naming permanent what is impermanent, pure what is impure, happy what is painful, and the self for what is not-the-self.

II.6 I-am-ness [as an affliction] is confusing the one who sees with the instrument of seeing, and considering them to be the one self.

II.7 Rāga [attachment] follows from happiness.

II.8 Dveśa [aversion] follows pain.

II.9 By its very nature, abhiniveśa [the resolve to live] flows on; indeed, it is therefore rooted in the wise.

II.10 These [afflictions] are deep; [yet] by the process of involution, they dwindle.

II.11 The thought patterns from these [afflictions] are released by meditation.

II.12 The root of the kleśas is the karma-reservoir. [Past experiences] will make themselves known in births, seen and unseen.

II.13 The root existing–there is fructification from it, in place, time, and experience.

II.14 They are fruits of joy or grief, depending on the virtue or non-virtue of the cause.

II.15 Due to the pain of change, the suffering from that change, and the imprints of that suffering–[which derive] from the collisions of the guṇas–to the person of discernment, all, really, is pain.

II.16 Pain not come is to be abandoned.

II.17 The cause of the [pain] to be abandoned is the conflation of the seer and the seen.

II.18 Illumination, activity, stability characterize the seen. They are manifest in the elements and sense organs. Their purpose is pleasure and fulfillment.

II.19 The levels of the guṇas [are]: distinct and non-distinct, manifest and unmanifest.

II.20 The seer is seeing alone–pure, although seeing by means of thoughts.

II.21 The aim of this [pure seeing] is indeed the true nature of the seen.

II.22 The common view of things is lost yet not-lost: lost to [the one whose] aim is accomplished, not-lost to others who [still] share the common view.

II.23 The conflation [of the seer and what is seen] is the cause of the [mis-]apprehension of the true nature of what is and the one who would possess it.

II.24 The cause of that is not-knowing.

II.25 From the not-being of that [not-knowing], the not-being of conflation. This leaving [leads to] the oneness of seeing.

II.26 Discernment is realized and does not drift. This is the path of leaving.

II.27 The wisdom that comes from this [discernment] is sevenfold–it reaches the innermost ground of one’s being.

II.28 From the devoted practice of the limbs of yoga, upon the destruction of impurities, a light of knowledge shines. That brings the realization of discernment.

II.29 Yama, niyama, āsana, prāṇāyāma, pratyāhāra, dhāraṇā, dhyāna, and samādhi are the eight limbs.

II.30 The yamas are non-harming, truth, non-stealing, connection to spirit, non-acquisitiveness.

II.31 These are universal, unlimited by birth, place, time or circumstance. They are a great vow.

II.32 The niyamas are cleanliness, contentment, discipline, self-study, and surrender to the source.

II.33 On [experiencing] the harassment of thoughts, embody the opposite.

II.34 Thoughts that are harmful (and counter to the yamas, the niyamas) can result in actions done, caused to be done, or approved of; they may be caused by greed, anger, or delusion; and they may be mild, medium, or extreme. They bear fruits of unending pain and ignorance. Therefore, embody the opposite.

II.35 Upon the establishment of non-harming–in the presence of that–relinquishment of hostilities.

II.36 Upon the establishment of truth, assurance of the fruit of actions.

II.37 Upon the establishment of non-stealing, the presence of real wealth.

II.38 Upon the establishment of connection to Spirit, obtainment of vital energy.

II.39 Stable in non-acquisitiveness, [one] understands the why and wherefore of birth.

II.40 From cleanliness, protection of one’s own body and non-contact with what is adverse.

II.41 [From this,] clarity about the essence of things, cheerfulness, focus, refreshment of the senses, receptivity.

II.42 From contentment, incomparable attainment of happiness.

II.43 Strength of the body and senses comes from tapas–the removal of impurities.

II.44 From self-study, union with the beloved within.

II.45 The ability to perceive directly and fully [comes] from turning toward the source within.

II.46 Steadiness and happiness–[that is] āsana.

II.47 [Āsana becomes steady and happy] from the relaxation of effort and an intimation of the infinite.

II.48 From that, non-affliction of the pairs of opposites.

II.49 Being in that [āsana], prāṇāyāma is the interruption of the [ordinary] movements of inhalation and exhalation.

II.50 [The breath consists of] external, internal, paused movement; observed–by means of location, time, and number–[it becomes] long and subtle.

II.51 Beyond the realm of external/internal [is] the fourth.

II.52 From that, the covering of the light is destroyed.

II.53 And a readiness of the mind for holding a point of focus.

II.54 Withdrawal of the senses is like an imitation of citta‘s own true nature–citta separates from its [accustomed] objects.

II.55 From that, full resiliency of the senses.

Pāda Three

III.1 Dhāraṇā is the binding of citta to a place.

III.2 There [in the state of dhāraṇā], a singleness of attention to arising thoughts is dhyāna.

III.3 That–when the object alone shines forth, as if [citta] were empty of its own identity–is samādhi.

III.4 The three [dhāraṇā, dhyāna, samādhi] are one thing: saṁyama.

III.5 From the realization [of saṁyama], the light of wisdom.

III.6 Its [practice] takes us to the ground of our being.

III.7 The group of three is an inner limb compared to the previous ones.

III.8 But it is an outer limb compared to the seedless.

III.9 The nirodha transformation is the saṁskara [pattern] of nirodha manifesting as the saṁskara of awakening lessens.  The moment when nirodha [is experienced] shapes citta.

III.10 From the saṁskāra of [nirodha] — a calm flow.

III.11 The diminishment of the tendency to consider all purposes and the rising of the ability to choose one focus is the samādhi transformation of citta.

III.12 Again then, the pacified thought and the rising thought become equal. That is ekāgratā transformation of citta.

III.13 By this, the transformations of the body and the senses are explained. These transformations are significant in relation to one’s role in life, one’s age, and the circumstances one endures.

III.14 The holder of the forms (dharmī) is present in all the forms (dharma)–past, present, future.

III.15 The unique path is the cause of the uniqueness of the transformation.

III.16 From saṁyama on change and its three aspects, knowledge of the past and future.

III.17 Word, object, and thought–piled one upon the other–get confused. From saṁyama on the distinctness of these, knowledge of the sound of all beings.

III.18 From direct observation of saṁskāra, knowledge of previous births.

III.19 [From direct perception] of a thought, knowledge of the citta of another.

III.20 But one cannot know the cause [of that thought], because [citta] itself is not object-like.

III.21 From saṁyama on the form of the body, [one learns] placement [of the awareness] within. [As this happens], one is freed from the power of others’ perceptions. [One feels within], disconnecting the light from the eye.

III.22 By this, the placement within of sound and the other senses is explained [as well].

III.23 Karma advances quickly or slowly. From saṁyama on [karma]–and on natural signs–knowledge of death.

III.24 [From saṁyama] on friendliness, etc.–strengths.

III.25 [To focus] on strengths–[learn from] the strength of an elephant, etc.

III.26 By directing the brilliancy of [the finest aspects of] perception, knowledge of subtle, concealed, distant things.

III.27 From saṁyama on the sun, knowledge of the world.

III.28 [From saṁyama] on the moon, knowledge of the arrangement of the stars.

III.29 [From saṁyama] on the polestar, knowledge of their  motion.

III.30 [From saṁyama] on the navel cakra, knowledge of the organization of the body.