Yoga is a vast and a very old subject. Many people have written about yoga, but one of the most important works of yoga is by Patanjali. Pata means a snake; Anjali is offering. A woman wished an amazing being to be born to her. She was so pious that God granted her this gift and as she was praying in her hands fell a snake, a little one. Pata- snake; in the hands- offering. That is where the word comes from. The story goes that this was no ordinary being; it was the great serpent Ananta. Ananta meaning – endless; snake is endless.
Ananta asked Vishnu one day; he said “oh lord I would like the occasion to learn yoga from Shiva”. So he said “for that you will have to be born on the earth and then pray to lord Shiva to give you some knowledge”. So he was born like that, because a woman’s desire that she wanted some very exceptional being to be born to her. Thus, we don’t know how he got knowledge from Shiva, but he did and thus wrote this work; The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. Sutra is a necklace on a string; so the sutras are like beads connected with each other. And what’s the most amazing fact is that the whole treatise of the Yoga has been put into one hundred and ninety-six sentences. Most amazing.
All works start off by introduction; “here” he says “is the text on yoga”, sutra one. Then he goes for it straight; “yogas citta vrtti nirodha”. What is yoga? It’s the cessation (nirodha), the eradication of all the stuff that goes on within us; within the consciousness (citta). It is all the stuff that happens in our being, which is called the conscious, the subconscious and all levels of our being including the manifestation of this body; the consciousness that creates this body. Yoga citta vrtti nirodha- bringing the citta to completely be void of movement is the practice of yoga. This is yoga.
Therefore, is it exercise in all the things that we do in our practice? I want you who are enthusiasts of yoga to question that and have that question always when you practice yoga.
Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre
Yoga Master Teacher Sharat Arora
Article derived from the “Pranic Healing” Intensive Yoga Course
At the Himalaya Shanti Ashram in Dharamsala in October – November 2013