Teaching Ashtanga,  Uncategorized,  Yoga Philosophy,  Yoga Sutras

Yoga Sutras For Modern Day Life: I Bet You Hate This Part of the Yoga Class

Yoga Sutra of Patanjali 1:17 -Types of objective samadhi are deliberative,reflective


Defining the Sutra

Today, we continue to define, Sutra 1:17. Go here for previous segments of Yoga Sutras for Modern Day Life. The next level of objective samadhi is reflective samadhi. It is contemplating subtle non physical elements. Samadhi is being in a state of one pointed awareness where you fully know who you are and you live your life from this place.  Your mind, body and emotions become your play ground and they no longer control you and you are no longer attached to them.  You move in a way that not only benefits you but everyone in the world.

Focus takes us to a temporary state of samadhi. It distracts the mind long enough to let go of repetitive thoughts and emotions that block your luminescence.

Modern Day Application:

Techniques that lead to reflective samadhi are very popular in the modern day yoga world. Students are often asked to focus on an emotion like love, colors of the chakras or beautiful imagery such as a lotus. Many yoga students hate this part of the class . This is why asana, yoga poses, are so important. For most people, asana, are more accessible and are the starting point for yoga.  They are physical and when practiced, can be seen and felt.  We can practice samadhi on a yoga pose (deliberative) until we are at a point where we can do the subtle work of reflective samadhi. Reflective samadhi is much harder and deeper than deliberative. It is an internal seeing that is harder to grasp and takes more patience than deliberative.

Why Is It Important?

Reflective samadhi is yet another way to make samadhi accessible for anyone who wants to do the work. It is also said to be the main method of understanding the Yoga Sutras and other spiritual books. When reading the Sutras, we have to see them with our internal eyes. We read a verse and then wait and see what arises in us. This is the reason why many people do not like and/or don’t understand the Sutras. Simply reading them is not enough.  Trying to understand yoga from a purely academic stand point does not bring about inner change. Yoga always needs to be experienced personally and from deep within.

This is the reason why the trend towards classes that are heavily based on anatomy concerns me. While anatomy  is good and keeps the body safe, it is a realm of the mind. If all the focus of the class is on anatomy, then the inner looking, which leads to samadhi, does not happen.

If we look at yoga in levels, object-less samadhi would be the highest level. The inner looking is the door way to higher levels. If our focus stays on the external appearance and feel of the asana, our yoga is stunted.


Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail shanna@ashtangayogaproject.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *