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Yoga Sutra Chapter 1 Summarized (Samadhi Pada)

This week, I finished the first portion of the Yoga Sutra Study course with my 2024 group in the program! The Yoga Sutra Study is an eight month program with regular discussion groups. It is a 100 Hour course which can either be done alone, or as part of the 300-Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training course that I lead.

A group of students of yoga practicing child's pose.
A group of students in Child's Pose.

This week, I finished the first portion of the Yoga Sutra Study course with my 2024 group in the program! The Yoga Sutra Study is an eight month program with regular discussion groups. It is a 100 Hour course which can either be done alone, or as part of the 300-Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training course that I lead.

After teaching the course for the last three years, I feel I finally have a good grasp of the structure of the text, and I want to share the breakdown of the different sections of the text and what their general focus is. If you want to learn more about each section, I have various Yoga Teacher Training courses which can introduce you to the text more in depth (see bottom of the blog post!)

Sutras 1.1 - 1.4: What is yoga?

Yoga Sutra 1.1 Atha yoga anusasanam

Yoga Sutra 1.2 Yogas Citta Vritti Nirodhah

Yoga Sutra 1.3 Tada Drastuh Svarupe Vasthanam

Yoga Sutra 1.4 Vritti Sarupyam Itaratra

Simply put, these four first sutras are all about: what is yoga? We learn that yoga begins in the now, yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind, when we practice yoga we can see the world with clarity, and when we don't practice yoga, we get swept up in our thoughts.

Sutras 1.5 - 1.11: The Five types of Thoughts

Yoga Sutra 1.5 Vrttayah pancatayyah klistaklistah

Yoga Sutra 1.6 Pramana Viparyaya Vikalpa Nidra Smrtayah

Yoga Sutra 1.7 Pratyaksa Anumana Agamah Pramanani

Yoga Sutra 1.8 Viparyayo Mithya Jnanam Atadrupa Pratistham

Yoga Sutra 1.9 Sabda Jnana Anupati Vastu Sunyo Vikalpah

Yoga Sutra 1.10 Abhava Pratyaya Alambana Tamo Vrittir Nidra

Yoga Sutra 1.11 Anu Bhuta Visaya Asampramosah Smritih

This section of the sutras introduces us to the five vrittis, or five thought spirals: right knowledge, wrong knowledge, sleep, memory, and imagination. It shows us how our thoughts can take us on a journey from true to untrue, from truth to imagination, to memory, etc. When we learn how to discern our thoughts, we can learn how to realize what is actually observed in truth, and what has been imagined. We can see how we harm ourselves via these thoughts, as we cause ourselves suffering. During my sutra study course, I teach an exercise for my students to witness their thoughts and distinguish them from one another, which I learned from my amazing teacher Anvita in Mumbai.

Sutras 1.12 - 1.16: Practice and Nonattachment

Yoga Sutra 1.12 Abhyasa Vairagya Abhyam Tan Nirodhah

Yoga Sutra 1.13 Tatra Sthitau Yatno Bhyasa

Yoga Sutra 1.14 Sa Tu Dirghakala Nairantarya Satkara Adara Asevito Drdhabhumih

Yoga Sutra 1.15 Viparyayo Mithya Jnanam Atadrupa Pratistham

Yoga Sutra 1.16 Tat param purusa khyati guna vaitsnyam.

These sutras introduce us to the concepts of abhyasa, practice, and dispassion, vairagya. We learn these as the two fundamental aspects of our practice and learn about different elements regarding practice and letting go. We learn about the lower and higher form of vairagya, the three types of abhyasa, and more.

Sutras 1.17 - 1.18: An Introduction to Samadhi

Yoga Sutra 1.17 Vitarka vicara anada asmita rupa anugamat samprajnatah

Yoga Sutra 1.18 Virama pratyaya abhyasa purvah samskara seso nyah

In Sutras 1.17 - 1.18, we are introduced to the higher and lower forms of samadhi, or consciousness. We understand that lower samadhi has four stages and we learn what they are.

Yoga Sutra 1.19 - 1.22: The Effects of Effort

Yoga Sutra 1.19 Bhava pratyayo Vvideha prakriti layanam

Yoga Sutra 1.20 Sraddha virya smrti samadhi prajna purvaka itaresam

Yoga Sutra 1.21 Tivra Samveganam Asaannah

Yoga Sutra 1.22 Mrdu-Madhya-Adhimatrat-tato-pi Viseah

This selection of sutras speaks to a few concepts. The first speaks about the death and rebirth cycle, according to yoga philosophy. The belief here is that when we die, not all effort towards consciousness is lost. We will be reborn closer to samadhi than we were born in the previous lifetime. This is why some children appear to be more enlightened then their peers. We learn about the five step process that the rest of us must take to work towards samadhi. Then, we learn about the two different building blocks of developing blocks towards samadhi. And finally, we learn about the three different types of practitioners on their way to samadhi.

Yoga Sutra 1.23 Isvara Pranidhana

Yoga Sutra 1.24 Klesa karma vipaka asayiah aparamtrstah purusa visea isvarah

Yoga Sutra 1.25 Tatra niratisayam sarvajna bijam

Yoga Sutra 1.26 Sa esa purvesam api guruh kalena anavacchedat

Yoga Sutra 1.27 Tasya Vacakah Pranavah

Yoga Sutra 1.28 Taj Japah Tad Artha Bhavanam

Yoga Sutra 1.29 Tatah Pratyak Cetana Adhigamo Py Antaraya Abhavas Ca

This selection of sutras speaks towards the role that faith plays in our journey. We must have some kind of spiritual devotion to bring into our practice, but it doesn't matter what it is. Whether we believe in Allah, Buddha, Krishna, God, Human Potential, Source, The doesn't matter. But we do need to bring faith into our practice. We learn that this is within all of us. There is an inner guru. It's not external. There are three characteristics of this inner guru. We need to make sure to never confuse our teachers for being our gurus - they just lit the match, and we carried our own torches without them. And chanting om via japa is like, as my teacher Anvita said, "an elevator to God."

Yoga Sutra 1.30 - 1.32: Obstacles

Yoga Sutra 1.30 vyadhi styana samsaya pramada alasya avirati bhrantidarsana alabdha bhumikatva anavasthitatvani citta viksepha te antarayah

Yoga Sutra 1.31 duhkha daurmanasya angamejayatva svasa-prasvasah viksepa sahabhuvah

Yoga Sutra 1.32 Tat pratisedh artam eka tattva abhyasah

There are nine obstacles to our spiritual path, which Patanjali outlines here. I find this comforting - because we realize that we are not alone, and distractions are a universal human experience. There are four symptoms that arise from these distractions, which are outlined in this section, too. There is one solution, which is also explained here.

Yoga Sutras 1.33 - 1.39: Examples of Practice

Yoga Sutra 1.33 maitri karuna mudito upeksana sukha duhkha punya apunya visayanam bhavantah citta prasadanam

Yoga Sutra 1.34 Pracchardana Vidharana Abhyam Va Pranasya

Yoga Sutra 1.35 Visavayati va pravrtti-rutpanna manasah sthiti nibandhini

Yoga Sutra 1.36 Visoka va jyotismati

Yoga Sutra 1.37 Vitaraga visayam va cittam

Yoga Sutra 1.38 svapna-nidra jnana-alambaman va

Yoga Sutra 1.39 Yatha-abhimata-dhyanad-va

All of the sutras in sections 1.33 - 1.39 explain some different ways that we can practice meditation. They include sensory withdrawal, meditating on an object, etc. One of my favorite points is sutra 1.33 which discusses the need to heal animosity - because if we harbor any animosity, we're unable to arrive in a state of meditation. I also enjoy how after listing many meditation strategies, the last sutra, sutra 1.39, says "or, you can meditate on anything you like." Essentially meaning - I will give you many examples, but you need to find out what works for you.

Yoga Sutras 1.40 - 1.51: What Practice Does

Yoga Sutra 1.40: Paramanu parama-mahattva-anto-sya vasikarah

Yoga Sutra 1.41: Ksina-vrtter-abhijatasy-eva manerghitr-grahana-grahyesutatstha-tadanjanata samapatih

Yoga Sutra 1.42: Tatra sabdartha-jnana-vikalpaih samkrina savitarka samapattih

Yoga Sutra 1.43: Smrti-parisuddhau svarupa-sunyeva-arthamarta-nirbhasa nirvitarka

Yoga Sutra 1.44: Etayaiva savicara nirvicara ca suksma-visaya vyakhyata

Yoga Sutra 1.45: Suksma-visayatvam-ca-alinga paryavasanam

Yoga Sutra 1.46: Ta eva sabijas-samadhih

Yoga Sutra 1.47: Nirvicara-vaisaradye-dhyatma-prasadah

Yoga Sutra 1.48: Rtambhara tatra prajna

Yoga Sutra 1.49: Sruta-anumana-prajna-abhyam-anya-visaya visesa-arthatvat

Yoga Sutra 1.50: Tajjas-samskaro-nya-samskara pratibandhi

Yoga Sutra 1.51: Tasyapi nirodhe sarva-nirodhan-nirbijah samadhih

The final section of the samadhi pada, chapter one, is all about the effects of practice. We gain everything from the ability to focus on the smallest and largest of objects, to manifest and attract into our lives what we desire, and more! There are eleven effects of the practice which Patanjali explains.

Curious About Learning More?


The Yoga Sutras are briefly touched on, in two lessons as an overview, in my 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training. If you are someone who wants to be a yoga teacher, this is the option for you. The next 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings are:

200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training - ONLINE

Join me June - December online. Save your spot here.

200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training - IN BALI

Save your spot for Bali 200 Hours here.

July 1st - 21st, 2024 SOLD OUT

September 23 - October 3, 2024 HYBRID HALF ONLINE, HALF IN PERSON IN BALI

January 5th - 26th, 2025


The 300 Hour Training course is an advanced program, which looks at many of the 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training concepts in depth. Part of this program is a 100 Hour Yoga Sutra Study, which you can sign up for online here.

I'm also offering the Yoga Sutra Study course live in Bali in later 2024. Join us here.

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