What is Yoga?

“One meaning of Yoga is “skillful action,” which is complicated— its very complex to be considering all the possible ramifications of our actions. It’s not possible to foresee them. That’s part of what makes it interesting. Sri Prashant Iyengar says that the chant to Patañjāli is not a prayer because it’s not asking for anything. It’s a recognition, an appreciation of the passing down of that wisdom. The sūtras themselves are like collections, collected word of mouth. Patañjāli was a teacher or teachers. When the students were taught the sūtras, through repetition, they weren’t taught the meaning of the words, which themselves were so terse there are so many explanations that could be derived from them. The students might ask, “Where did you get this from?” And would be told, “my teacher.” From Patañjāli, the first sūtra gives the sense, ‘I’ve tried everything else, NOW, yoga.’ The second sutra tells us, ‘yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.’ We are told there is this possibility that of a state where the mind can cease. The sūtras themselves are like the loosest roadmap imaginable because of its spareness.  Meanings can change depending on where the divisions fall... The sūtras outline the eight limbs of Yoga which are a bit like climbing a ladder with a broad base. The teacher can only lead the seeker to concentration, for the states of meditation and samadhi it is up to you. Can a teacher actually teach yoga if this is what Yoga is? And yet why are we here together? Iyengar taught me to do poses and pranayama and I started to get glimpses of when the mind was there—in the detailed work, the mind dissolving and the intensity of purpose that came out of the mindfulness. These glimpses are what attached me to Iyengar. They were much more compelling than other reasons to study such as fixing a knee problem....”

And so much more. Yoga philosophy talk March 2, 2018, Mr. Manouso Manos

From imperfect, partial notes and one student’s perspective. All mistakes and confusion is my doing. Any clarity is due to my teacher.