One of the requirements of this yoga teacher training program is to read 4 different yoga books, then submit a brief report/reflection on each one. I have finished my third required text: The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali (with accompanying commentary by Jaganath Carrera); what follows is my reflective report. Enjoy! :)
“I have had an interesting relationship with – and reaction to – the yoga sutras.
I first read the yoga sutras in July of last year, at the beginning of this yoga study experience. I read the translated text that was included in T.V.K. Desikachar’s Heart of Yoga – and I didn’t understand it very well. Indeed, I left the reading of the sutras with more questions than answers, more confusion than certainty, and more skepticism than belief. But at that time, all I really wanted out of this yoga study was a better asana practice, so the yoga sutras didn’t bother me too much; they just seemed… contradictory. And unrealistic. Or maybe just really complicated. Overly complicated.
As I continued to study yoga in this program, I felt a growing desire to deepen my practice beyond just the physical asanas. I wasn’t eager to read the yoga sutras again; but I felt like I needed to at least give them the benefit of supporting commentary before I assessed them as ‘not for me’. So I opened Carrera’s book – and spent the next two-and-a-half months going through the sutras slowly, trying to understand as much of the text as I could.
Through Carrera’s explanations, real-life applications and reviews, many of the initial questions I had when I read the yoga sutras back in July were answered; and many of the confusing items were clarified for me. I came to understand that Sanskrit is a nuanced, poetic language – so the words that appear on the surface of the page are often not the entire context and content that Patanjali wished to convey. I realized that many of my questions – and much of my initial skepticism – was a result of language logistics, not philosophical disagreement.
Indeed, my current understanding of the yoga sutras (simple and basic though it may be) leads me to see this text as very inspiring, peaceful, and hope-giving. It is my aspiration to continue down the full path of yoga, so that I may one day experience the union between seen and Seer – indeed, so that I can meet my true Self.”