In The Yoga Sutras, a collection of 196 terse aphorisms, we discover what is essentially a manual on how to live in such a way as to awaken to ourselves and to God. It is a practical, if seemingly esoteric, text. It is meant for all people regardless of religious persuasion, nationality, gender, age or class.
People choose to study the sutras in different ways. Some learn to chant them in Sanskrit, the ancient language they are written in. This is considered the traditional manner of learning. There is a marvelous CD set of the four chapters, or padas, which comprise the Sutras available through IYNAUS for those who are interested (see resources).
For myself, I discovered when my children were toddler and baby that reading one sutra a day along with its adjoining commentary can be a way to enter their wisdom. By studying and mulling over the sutras in this manner, I find the daily sutra informing all aspects of my life. Over the course of time I have read and reread the text many times. Once in awhile I will also read them straight through to gain a sense of their poetry and rhythm. Though I do this in English, and know that translations always are second best to the original, their beauty still shines forth for me.
With the “sutra of the day” in mind I practice asana, and I would like to share this experience here with you. In proceeding on the path of Yoga, it is Patanjli’s recommendation that the practice of Yoga involve incorporating the study of the sutras into practical application. To do this B.K.S. Iyengar gives us his guidance. He asks us not to start with the very first sutra of text which defines Yoga but with the following one which tells us how to do Yoga:
Sutra II.29 yama niyama asana pranayama pratyahara dharana dhyana samadhayah astau angani
Moral injunctions, fixed observances, posture, regulation of breath, internalization of the senses towards their source, concentration, meditation, and absorption of consciousness in the self, are the eight constituents of yoga.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Extended Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
Extended Side Angle Pose (Parsvakonasana)
Spread Apart Foot Pose (Prasarita Padottanasana)
Downward Facing Hero Pose (Adho Mukha Virasana)
Four Footed Pose (Chatushpadasana)
Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana) with or without a chair
Half Plow Pose (Ardha Halasana) toes on chair
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This simple routine will take you approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Proceed with attention and care. Stop if you are unsure of how to continue and refer to Light on Yoga, or other related Iyengar Yoga texts, for guidance.
The path of Iyengar Yoga is compelling and exhilarating. As we continue on the journey practice begins to take on different dimensions at different times. Here is a sequence that can move into two possibilities depending on your needs.
Sutra II.28 yogaDganusthanat asuddhiksaye jnanadiptih avivekakhyateh
By the dedicated practice of the various aspects of yoga impurities are destroyed: the crown of wisdom radiates in glory.
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana
Adho Mukha Svasana
THEN, FOR BEGINNING STUDENTS DO
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, withblock
Supta Baddha Konasana
AND FOR CONTINUING STUDENTS DO
(Salamba Sirsasana, with eka pada)
Salamba Sarvangasana, with or without a chair
Eka Pada Salamba Sarvangasana
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