An Introduction to Chapter Two of the Yoga Sutra-s of Patanjali by Gary Kraftsow

Monday, December 05, 2011 -

The second chapter of the Yoga Sutras is called Sadhana Pada. Sadhana is a the Sanskrit word that is used to mean “practice.” This chapter is for most of us, who are called Baddanjali, meaning those who are bound, caught, in circumstances and those kind of experiences that cause us suffering.

Suffering comes in many forms: back pain is suffering, sleeping loss is suffering, depression is suffering, anxiety is suffering, not knowing who you truly are is suffering. Being alienated, uncertain about what you are going to do tomorrow, your goal in life, your main purpose in life – all these are examples of what gets us caught, and causes our suffering.

The idea is that, for most of us, it is through active process that we can begin to effect change. Most of us are caught up in our patterns and are not even mindful of them. The theory is that through practice and through specific kinds of action, we can begin to transform our patterns, break our attachment and identification – which are the root of most of our problems -- and ultimately get to the root of our suffering.

Suffering is characterized by the term avidya, which translates as ignorance, or fundamental misapprehension about the nature of who we are. We mistake the unreal for real, the impure for the pure, that which is going to create suffering as that which brings pleasure, and the not self for the Self. The greatest example is looking in the mirror, and, what do you see? Most people say they see themselves. But you don’t see yourself; you see a reflection of yourself. And most of us are identified with our self-image. Not with who we truly are.

Although it is difficult to express this phenomenon in the English language, Yoga itself is considered a vidya, a living body of knowledge, which is the opposite of avidya. But most of us have avidya, ignorance.

The second chapter of The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, Sadhana Pada, talks about what are the sources of suffering and how to overcome them. It is in the context of this chapter that you find the greatKriya Yoga of Patanjali and the Astanga Yoga, not of Pattabhi Jois, who has now left us, but the great Astanga yoga of Patanjali. It reveals how, through action, we are able to not simply reinforce our existing dysfunction. You know how, if you move without consciousness of your movement patterns, you’ll reinforce those patterns. When we act and behave without self-consciousness of how we are acting and behaving, we follow pre-established patterns. One example is being in a bad relationship and leaving, and few years later, finding ourselves in another relationship with the same problems because we haven’t become reflectively self-conscious of these patterns. Chapter two addresses these issues of becoming conscious of our patterns, and learning to move and act with awareness.

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