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Cornerstones of Yoga Philosophy from Bernadette: The Yoga Sutras

by Bernadette Soler, (C-IAYT, E-RYT500, YACEP)

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"Where do we go to find more information on yoga? There's so much out there, it's thousands and thousands of years of teaching that were passed down from person-to-person. So there is a lot written down, but there's not one huge source text. A lot of it is in the Vedas and the Upanishads. A good place to start if you're looking for more, and especially if you're interested in yoga philosophy, which some of you have mentioned you are, is to start diving into the Yoga Sutras. It's useful to have a few different Yoga Sutra texts to compare as you study, so you can see a fuller picture, and in what context different people have applied them, giving you a chance to take what you've read and make them your own."

For the full video explaining these texts from Bernadette, visit the Clarksburg Yoga and Wellness Community Page on Facebook!

It is also a good idea when starting to read the Yoga Sutras, to recognize that they are philosophy, and as such, can be extremely dense. In order to fully absorb the ideas presented, it may be best to start by reading a little bit at a time. For example, one passage in the morning after meditation to find some inspiration for the day to come!

Here are a few recommendations of favorite texts from Bernadette to get you started:


The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Translation and Commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda

"Great for a first look at the yoga sutras if you've not studied them before and you want to pick just one text to begin!"

This valuable book provides a complete manual for the study and practice of Raja Yoga, the path of concentration, and meditation. This new edition of these timeless teachings is a treasure to be read and referred to again and again by seekers treading the spiritual path. The classic Sutras (thought-threads), at least 4,000 years old, cover the yogic teachings on ethics, meditation, and physical postures, and provide directions for dealing with situations in daily life.

The Sutras are presented here in the purest form, with the original Sanskrit and with translation, transliteration, and commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda, one of the most respected and revered contemporary Yoga masters. In this classic context, Sri Swamiji offers practical advice based on his own experience for mastering the mind and achieving physical, mental, and emotional harmony.

Available on Amazon here.


The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: A New Edition, Translation, and Commentary by Edwin F. Bryant

Written almost two millennia ago, Patañjali's work focuses on how to attain the direct experience and realization of the Purusa: the innermost individual self, or soul. As the classical treatise on the Hindu understanding of mind and consciousness and on the technique of meditation, it has exerted immense influence over the religious practices of Hinduism in India and, more recently, in the West.

Edwin F. Bryant's translation is clear, direct, and exact. Each sutra is presented as Sanskrit text, transliteration, and precise English translation, and is followed by Bryant's authoritative commentary, which is grounded in the classical understanding of yoga and conveys the meaning and depth of the sutras in a user-friendly manner for a Western readership without compromising scholarly rigor or traditional authenticity. In addition, Bryant presents insights drawn from the primary traditional commentaries on the sutras written over the last millennium and a half.

Available on Amazon here.


The Secret of the Yoga Sutra: Samadhi Pada Second Edition by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD

The Yoga Sutra is the living source of wisdom of the yoga tradition and is as relevant today as it was 2,200 years ago when it was codified by the sage Patanjali. Using this ancient yogic text as a guide, we can unlock the hidden power of yoga, and experience the promise of yoga in our lives. By applying its living wisdom in our practice, we can achieve the purpose of life: lasting fulfillment and ultimate freedom.

The Secret of the Yoga Sutra is the first practitioner-oriented commentary of The Yoga Sutra which is fully grounded in a living tradition. It shares the essence of Pandit Tigunait's rigorous scholarly understanding of the Yoga Sutra, through the filter of experiential knowledge gained through decades of advanced yogic practices, and enriched by the gift of living wisdom he received from the masters of the Himalayan Tradition

Available on Amazon here.


The Heart of Yoga: Developing A Personal Practice by T.K.V. Desikachar

The first yoga text to outline a step-by-step sequence for developing a complete practice according to Viniyoga--yoga adapted to the needs of the individual.

• A contemporary classic by a world-renowned teacher.

• This new edition adds thirty-two poems by Krishnamacharya that capture the essence of his teachings.

Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who lived to be over 100 years old, was one of the greatest yogis of the modern era. Elements of Krishnamacharya's teaching have become well known around the world through the work of B. K. S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, and Indra Devi, who all studied with Krishnamacharya. Krishnamacharya's son T. K. V. Desikachar lived and studied with his father all his life and now teaches the full spectrum of Krishnamacharya's yoga. Desikachar has based his method on Krishnamacharya's fundamental concept of Viniyoga, which maintains that practices must be continually adapted to the individual's changing needs to achieve the maximum therapeutic value.

In The Heart of Yoga Desikachar offers a distillation of his father's system as well as his own practical approach, which he describes as "a program for the spine at every level--physical, mental, and spiritual." This is the first yoga text to outline a step-by-step sequence for developing a complete practice according to the age-old principles of yoga. Desikachar discusses all the elements of yoga--poses and counterposes, conscious breathing, meditation, and philosophy--and shows how the yoga student may develop a practice tailored to his or her current state of health, age, occupation, and lifestyle.

This is a revised edition of The Heart of Yoga.

Available on Amazon here.

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