“In yoga, philosophy, and practice are married,” says, Judith Hanson Lasater in the first Q&A section of her (and her daughter’s) course, Patanjali 101.
Further on, she explains that to understand Patanjali intuitively we have to feel moments of self-doubt, to feel how our memory pulls us away from the mat, to feel how our to-do races us forward, to pause when we feel a pose, to let go when we have difficulty in a pose, it is not only doing the pose but also “thinking” the pose. How do I feel, respond, and think as I’m moving on the mat and then maybe begin to think about how we move in the world.
During my graduate studies in philosophy, I was never asked how I “feel” about a particular philosophy. The prejudice against feelings in philosophy stems from a fear that feelings are subjective, volatile and obstructs clear, rational thinking and most importantly dialogue. We cannot connect and converse with others through emotions. To someone who says ” I just love Plato,” I cannot respond or negate her/his emotions. I can’t say, “No you don’t.” I can only respond and argue with reasons. The philosophical primacy centers on sustaining dialogue.
The nature of dialogue in yoga is different. Instead of philosophical intersubjective, the yogic dialogue happens within the self as an appeal to the inner divine. What some yoga practitioners share are the Patanjali’s practices, most share the asanas. As a philosopher, yoga helps me feel what I understand of the world, but most importantly how I feel about my own responses. For me, the co-action of breath, movement and thought is what attracts me most to the material spirituality of yoga.
I look forward to learning more during the next 5 weeks.
The first week of the course centered on the first three sutras of the Patanjali and the mountain pose.
Yogah Chitta Vritti Nirodhah.
In choosing a Patanjali translation, Ms. Lasater recommends noting the translation of the word, nirodahah. She likes the word “resolved”, and explains, “I no longer use my mind to get stirred up. I can stand back and feel resolved, feel free. From that space the freedom to choose my actions.”
Here are seven other translations of the sutra:
- Yoga is the stilling of the changing states of mind. – Edwin F. Bryant
- Yoga is the restraining of the mindstuff. – Swami Vivkeananda
- Yoga is experienced in that mind which has ceased it identify itself with its vacillating waves of perception. – Mukunda Stiles
- Yoga is to still the patterning of consciousness. – Chip Hartranft
- Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart. – Nischala Joy Devi
- Union, spiritual consciousness, is gained through the control of the versatile psychic nature. – Kindle edition of Patanjali
- The restraint of the modifications of the mindstuff is Yoga- Sri Swami Satchidananda.
Here is a pdf that compares four translations of the sutras side by side in a chart for my fellow yoga-nerds.
May we all find our own translation through practice,