Discipline, Study and Surrender

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2.1 introduces the three components of kriya yoga (yoga of action).  They are discipline (tapas), study (svadyaya), and surrender (Isvara pranidhana).  According to Patanjali, these are the practical steps on the path to yoga.  These are also the concepts that we will be focusing on this month in class.

These practices can inspire and broaden the experience of yoga both on and off the mat.  For, as Sutra 2.2 explains, it is through these practices that we nourish the state of samadhi and reduce suffering.  Samadhi is the eighth limb of yoga.  Often translated as absorption, to me samadhi is the state of perfection that is our birth right.

The Yoga Sutras are expressed in a way that is open to a variety of interpretations.  That’s one of the reasons there are so many different translations.  To some this might be confusing or frustrating, but for me it allows for a certain amount of freedom.  I have 4 different translations of the sutras and I often combine them to find the words that best suit me.  Rather than imposing strict definitions, I try to find language that is inspiring.  For example, when I first started studying yoga, I found the idea of discipline to be off putting so I translated tapas as practice.  As my understanding has grown, I worry less about the definitions and focus more on the goal.

However you choose to interpret the sutras and/or your yoga practice, my hope is that you will use everything available to you to increase your joy and decrease suffering for yourself and others.  It’s not easy, but it’s worth the effort!

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