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June 17th
Issue #11
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Scorpion Solitaire

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Monday 6/17/13
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Scorpion Solitaire


Yoga Sutra 1.2 - Why Yoga?

By Liz Rosenblum - 6/17/2013

Woman exercising yoga
  Photo Credit: Nuzza /

In Yoga Sutra 1.2, Patanjali writes, "Yogas Citta Vrtti Nirodhah." In other words, "The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga."

To simplify it even more - the goal of yoga is to stop the rippling of the thoughts in our minds. Put even more simply - stop, or at least limit, the way you react to outside influences.

Our minds wander. A lot. And when they do, they have a way of spiraling and causing us to feel stress or some other negative emotion. We tell ourselves stories. They can be about our own personal self-worth, about what other think of us, about our situation in life, etc. And these stories have a ripple effect. They multiply and go on and on and on.

Yoga, it is said, stops the rippling of those thoughts. If you are able to restrain your mind, you have accomplished the goal of yoga. The good news and bad news is that very few people are ever able to completely get control over their mind or reach a place Samadhi; therefore, we continue to practice yoga. And according to Patanjali, we need to practice it often and for a long time - and yes, that statement is intentionally vague!

The Sutras can be considered the guidebook of Yoga with this second one being among the most important for any Yoga practitioner, because why do something if you don't the goal of doing it.

So, let's break it down.
YOGAS = yoga.
Yoga - you know what that is ... right? It's what you do when you get on your mat and go through the various asanas. Well, yes. But there's more to it than just going through the motions. It's more likely that it means going through the postures with the breath and the dristi and, you might say most importantly, with intention.

The end goal of yoga is to gain control of the mind.
CITTA = of the mind-stuff.
VRTTI = modifications. Take these two together, and this is where the rippling begins.

It's the amazingly wonderful and frustrating part of the human brain. Think about how often this happens to you - You're sitting around very calmly, then, something happens and a sensory clue infiltrates your peaceful mind - be it a sight, a sound, a smell or a touch. The brain, then, has a way of taking that piece of data and creating another thought and then another and then another, generally leading to a feeling of desire. You then feel forced to take some action to satisfy that desire and return to the state of peace you were in before being interrupted.

This happens countless times a day - while we're awake, and while we sleep. Sometimes the modifications are harmless and even essential. But, other times they can lead to stress or even negative behaviors.

NIRODHAH = restraint.
This may be the key word in the sutra. The thoughts will happen. The ripples will happen. It's all part of being human. The outside world is constantly changing and we're constantly reacting. The idea is to establish restraint.

Putting it all together, the goal of yoga is to get control over the mind and reactions to outside influences in order to keep them from impacting us as severely as they often do - positively OR negatively. We can control the way we perceive outside influences. It's not often easy, but we can. And, that ultimate goal is the reason we practice yoga.


Scorpion Solitaire

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