1.2 Yogaḥ cittavṛtti nirodhaḥ

BKS Iyengar Light on the Yoga Sutras:

“Yoga is the cessation of movements in the consciousness”

I.K.Tatami The Science of Yoga:

“Yoga is the inhibition of the modifications of the mind”

Edwin Bryant, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:

“Yoga is the stilling of the changing states of the mind”

Reverend Jaganath Carrera, Inside the Yoga Sutras:

“The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is yoga”

This was one of the first sutras I ever learned.  It made sense to me as I experiences quietness and peace when I first started practicing yoga.

BKS Iyengar says that consciousness has three functions: cognition, volution, and motion.  He says that yoga shows us a way to quiet the mind’s movements and move towards an undisturbed state.  But he points out that it akes mental discipline of yoga to make the mind clear.  Yoga, he says, is the means of the restraint.

Tatami analyzes the meaning of all the words of this sutra. Yoga means “to join”.  Citta means mind but is really the medium to which consciousness functions. Vritti he says means “modification”.  Finally Nirodha means “restrainted” or “controlled”.

Both Bryant and BKS Iyengar go into a deeper meaning of citta and break it into three parts – buddhi, intelligence; ahankara, ego; and manas, mind. He says that vrtti means revolving.  Nirodhah means “all thoughts are stilled”.  He brings up an interesting point from early commentators.  If the vrttis are eliminated, what would consciousness be conscious of?

Carerra also breaks down all of the words individually.  He goes in to nirodha deep in many practical ways.  He says it is difficult to know how we perceive something, anything because of our biases.  He says nirodhah cleans our lens.  He also ties this sutra to the Bible and to the concept of repentance.  Repentance means to undergo a change in values and behavior.  Both these concepts represent a change from darkness to light.

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