Sutra Sunday: What is yoga?

Your weekly dose of Sutra wisdom.  Finding the deeper meaning of Yoga through the text.

योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः ॥ २॥


“Yoga is the process of stilling the distractions in our heart-mind.” – Nicolai Bachman, The Path of the Yoga Sutras

This is what yoga boils down to.  Yoga is a method by which we begin to muck through all the messages and clutter (vrittis) that have entered into our mind since birth.  Whether you do this through breathing, meditating, standing on your head, singing, walking, laughing, yoga is the path back to our sacred being.

We are all born with a pure heart-mind (citta).  It is the source of intuition and our connection with every other being on earth.  I would go so far to say that when scripture asserts we were “made in God’s image”, it is one and the same.  Others might equate it with spirit.  Whatever you call it, the heart-mind dwells within each of us.  However, it becomes clouded by earthly desires, dis-eases and sufferings.  It can become so clouded by these vrittis, that it is unseen, yet it is still there.

In teacher training, our teacher explained this through a simple demonstration.  She suspended a clear plastic heart into a vase of water.  This was to represent the heart mind, the water was our physical mind.  She began adding dyes and other liquids to the water.  The “mind” became cloudy and unclear and the heart-mind disappeared into the murk.

Now it would have been awesome if she had had a magic water cleaner that took out each dye and brought the water back to perfect clarity.  This is what yoga does for us.  It nirodahas (excuse me for completely bastardizing the sanskrit as an English verb, but it gets the point across).  Yoga blasts all the murk away and let’s our heart-mind shine through into the world.

If we could all live from the heart-mind, the world would be a better place to live.  Next time you step on the mat or sit in contemplation, begin to focus on the heart-mind.  Visualize light radiating from the heart and shining light onto all the dark places that cover your soul.  Blast yourself open from the inside out and bathe in the warmth of the connection that you have made with the universe.


“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr. 


4 thoughts on “Sutra Sunday: What is yoga?

  1. I love this…
    the demonstration your instructors did with the heart in the water is magical! And the connection you made to “made in God’s image” is put so nicely that I have to store in my yoga teacher tool belt.

  2. Pingback: Getting Personal: Humility | Back to the Sutra

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