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Yoga Sutras for the Course: Understanding the 8 Limbs of Yoga

As some of you may know, I have launched a course for a richer understanding on the 8 limbs of yoga of Patanjali. It is a 12-day course focusing on going deeper in the meaning of each sutra and on chanting the sutra related. The course has the option to be in German or English, just click on each language and you will be lead to them.

To help and facilitate on the understanding of the sutras and the chanting I decided to create a post here with all the sutras and its meaning. The translation can be from Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati or adapted from his book, which I particularly recommend to all my students. It is the book I chose for the Teacher Training program as well.

So here I split the sutras according to each day of the course. You will see the number corresponding to each, sometimes I chant more sutras to one topic. This will be your guideline to the course.

There are 4 chapters in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra:

1. Samādhipādaḥ (the path to merging with the Supreme) What is yoga?

2. Sādhanapādaḥ (the path of spiritual practice) What is yoga like when you actually live it?

3. Vibhūtipādaḥ (the path to supernatural powers) What accompanies yoga?

4. Kaivalyapādaḥ (the way to freedom) What is the overall goal?


Yoga Sutra 2:29

yama niyamāsana prāṇāyāma pratyāhāra dhāraṇā dhyāna samādhayo-'ṣṭāvagāni

yama niyama-āsana prāṇāyāma pratyāhāra dhāraṇā dhyāna samādhaya aṣṭāu agāni

Respect for your surroundings (Yama) and for yourself, (Niyama), harmony with your body (Āsana), your energy (Prānāyāma), your emotions (Pratyāhāra) and your thoughts (Dhārānā), immersion (Dhyāna) and ecstasy ( Samādhi), are the limbs of the eightfold path.


Yoga Sutra 2:30

ahisā-satyāsteya brahmacaryāparigrahā yamāḥ

ahiṁsā-satya-asteya brahmacarya-aparigrahāḥ yamāḥ

ahimsā = not harming

satya = truthfulness, truth

asteya = not stealing

brahmacharya = act in the awareness of a higher ideal

carya = walking towards

Brahma = source/ creator force /God

aparigrahā = not hoarding / non-possessiveness /not being bribable

yamā = external discipline

The five external disciplines are not harming, truthfulness, not stealing, act in awareness of a higher ideal, and not hoarding. By practicing the Yamas, you gain great willpower.

Yoga Sutra 2:35

ahisā-pratiṣṭhāyāṁ tat-sannidhau vaira-tyāga

ahiṁsā-pratiṣṭhāyāṁ tat-sannidhau vaira-tyāga

ahiṁsā = not harming

pratiṣṭha = firmly establish, based on, grounded in

tat = that, these

sannidhau = close by, presence, surrounding

vaira = hostility (Feindseligkeit, Streitigkeit)

tyāghaḥ = abandonment/ the giving up of.... to let go

Being firmly grounded in non-violence creates an atmosphere in which others can let go of their hostility.


When the yogī is firmly established in physical, mental, vocal and spiritual non-violence, there is abandonment of enmity by those who are in his or her presence.


In the presence of one who is firmly established in Not-harming, hostility disappears

Yoga Sutra 2:36

satya-pratithāyāṁ kriyā-phalāśrayatvam

satya-pratithāyāṁ kriyā-phala-āśrayatvam

satya = truthfulness, truth

pratiṣṭham = (von pratiṣṭha) grounded in, based on..

kriyā = action

phalā = fruit, result

āśrayatvam = (von āśrayat) foundation, base, rest on....

For those grounded in truthfulness, every action and its consequences are imbued with truth. Chip H.


If truthfulness (satya) is constant, one's own statements and actions always come true


Yoga Sutra 2:37

asteya-pratiṣṭhāyāṁ sarva-ratnopasthānam

asteya-pratiṣṭhāyāṁ sarva-ratna-upasthānam

All treasures are given to those who are rooted in non-stealing (Asteya).


Those who never violate other people's rights will be richly rewarded.


Whoever is stable and anchored in non-stealing will put all riches at his feet and all inner riches will be visible and available and accessible to that person.

Yoga Sutra 2:38

brahmacarya pratiṣṭhāyāṁ vīrya-lābha

brahma-carya pratiṣṭhāyāṁ vīrya-lābha

brahmacarya = walking or acting in the awareness of a higher ideal

carya = walking towards

Brahma= source/ creatorforce /the Absolut/ or God

Pratishthayam = to be firmly anchored, stable and steady

Vīrya = means life force, vitality, strength, to be in your juice

Labhah = means to achieve

If every action is carried out in the consciousness of a higher one ideal or God or creator force, great strength (Vīrya) is achieved.


By focusing, by being anchored and wandering in the consciousness of the Absolute, we gain great vitality.

Yoga Sutra 2:39

aparigraha-sthairye janma-kathantā sambodha

aparigraha-sthairye janma-kathantā sambodha

aparigraha = not hoarding

sthairye = being settled in

janma = birth

kathantā = understanding why

sambodhah = insight

If non-hoarding is constant, knowledge about past, present and future lives arises.


Freedom from wanting unlocks the real purpose of existence. (Translation by Chip Hartranft)


Yoga Sutra 2:32

śauca satoa tapa svādhyāyeśvara-praidhānāni niyamāḥ

śauca satoa tapa svādhyāya-īśvara praidhānāni niyamāḥ

1. Śauca Purity in thought, word and action

2. Saṁtoṣa contentment

3. Tapaḥ self-discipline, continuity

4. Svādhyāyā self-study and study about yourself

5. Īśvara-praṇidhānā devotion to a higher ideal/trust in a god of your own choice

Purity, contentment, self-discipline, learning from and about yourself, and surrender to a higher ideal. This is what constitutes respect and appreciation for yourself.

Yoga Sutra 2:40

śaucāt svāṅga-jugupsā parair asasarga

śaucāt sva aga-jugupsā paraia-sasarga

Śauca: means to act with a pure heart

Sva: is your own self

Anga: are the limbs and the components

Jugupsā: the detachment or the distance

Paraiḥ: with others

a-samsargaḥ: Freedom from any contact

By cleaning the body and mind, an inner detachment to our body and other people develops.


When purity and cleanliness of the body and mind (shaucha) are obtained, there arises in the yogi a sense of transcendence and detachment from his or her own physical body and disinclination to come into physical contact with the impurities of the bodies of others. (Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati)

Yoga Sutra 2:42



Santosād: contentment

Anuttamah: unsurpassed. It can't go any higher

Sukha: happiness, fulfillment

Lābhah: to attain or to win.

Contentment brings supreme happiness. You get happiness beyond comparison.

Yoga Sutra 2:43

kāyendriya-siddhir-aśuddhi-kayāt tapasa

kāya-indriya-siddhi-aśuddhi-kayāt tapasa

kāya = the body

indriya = sense organs, senses

siddhiḥ = (nom. of siddhi) supernatural power

aśuddhi = impurity, inconsistency, gloom

kṣayāt = (from kṣaya) to destroy, dissolve, reduce

tapaḥ = (nom. from tapas) self-discipline, perseverance, continuity, heat, friction

Through self-discipline (tapaḥ), gloom is resolved, body and senses receive supernatural power.


Self discipline, austerity (tapaḥ), destroys all impurities and gives rise to the perfection and blossoming of the body, mind, senses and sensory organs. (Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati)


As intense discipline burns up impurities, the body and its senses become supremely refined.


Yoga Sutra 2:44

svādhyāyād-iṣṭa-devatā saṁprayogaḥ

svādhyāyāt-iṣṭa-devatā saprayoga

svā = self

dhyāya: means concentration, to immerse or to reach the source.

Svāthyāyāt = self-study

iṣṭa = desired, longed for

devatā = personal inner god or deity

saṁprayogaḥ = means connection or contact with this inner being, with this essence.

Self-study connects you more deeply with your inner being. Your higher self, your Sadguru.


Learning about and from oneself brings connection to the desired ideal.

Yoga Sutra 2:45

Samādhi-siddhir īśvara-praidhānāt

Samādhi-siddhiḥ īśvara-praidhānāt

Samādhi = unity, and more precisely, "Sam- / Sama" means the same and "adhi" like the highest; so be the same as the highest! merging with All

Siddhiḥ = mastery, higher abilities

Īśvara = source, divine ideal, "God" or the highest in a personalized form

praṇidhānāt = surrender, trust in this ideal.

Devotion and trust in a higher ideal (Īśvara-Praṇidhāna) creates deep self-knowledge (samādhi) and supernatural powers (siddhi).


Yoga Sutra 2:46



Sthira = means stable, well anchored.

Sukham = means happy or joyful,

Āsanam = means seat, center of gravity, the connection to the earth

Your connection to earth and all earth dwellers should be stable and joyful.


Practice with strength / stability (Sthira) and happiness / serenity (Sukham) creates harmony in the physical body; in the seat (āsana).

Yoga Sutra 2:47



Essential in this practice is both an even, soft (śaitilya) breath (Prayatna), as well as (Abhyam), the concentration (Samāpatti) on the snake-like hissing of the breath (Ananta).


Yoga Sutra 2:49

tasmin sati śvāsa-praśvāsyor-gati-viccheda prāṇāyāma

tasmin sati śvāsa-praśvāsyo-gati-viccheda prāṇa-āyāma

After this has been achieved, there arises transcendence of the physical movement (Gati) associated with inhalation (Śvāsa) and exhalation (Praśvāsa). This is energy work (Prānāyāma).


With effort relaxing, the flow of inhalation and exhalation can be brought to a standstill; this is called breath regulation.

Yoga Sutra 2:52