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Yoga Sutras For Modern Day Life: Primary Series W/ A Third Series Feel

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1:41 When the modifications of the mind have become weakened, the mind becomes like a transparent crystal, and thus can easily take on the qualities of whatever object observed, whether that object be the observer, the means of observing, or an object observed, in a process of engrossment called samapatti.

Defining the Sutra

When the hold that your thoughts have over you has weakened, you can see the world for what it is. When you have clear seeing,  you can play with life and  experience the world without taking anything personal. Like a transparent crystal that temporarily takes on the color of an object behind it but is not altered,   you can take on different roles temporarily without loosing connection to your essence.



Modern Day Application

How would you like to be able to see everyone and everything for what they really are? How would your life change if you had unwavering focus? Think of what you could achieve in life if you had the ability to understand everything that you put your mind on? This is the promise of Yoga.

Yoga tells us that our attachment to the past and our fear for the future, the stories we make up in our mind and our disconnection from the world keeps us from being able to see life clearly. Instead of being a clear crystal, we become more like a river that has become muddy and clogged with debris. If the river becomes dirty enough, a natural damn is formed and our life becomes stuck. We just continuously swirl around in a circle. Never going anywhere. We no longer reflect the beauty of the sky or can see the fish and aquatic life beneath. We start to believe that this one little patch of the river is all there is.

Yoga is the process of cleaning out the river of your mind, heart and body so you can see the beauty deep within and reflect it out to the world.

Why it is Important

Ashtanga starts with the Primary Series/Yoga Chikitsa which means Yoga therapy. This series purifies the body and brings flexibility and strength. Ashtanga continues with Second Series/ Nadi Shodhana which means Nadi cleansing which cleanses on a nervous system and energetic level. Ashtanga culminates with Advanced Series, which includes Third Fourth and Sixth or,  Sthira Bhaga, which means divine steadiness.

Notice that steadiness comes after physical, nervous system and energetic cleansing.  This does not mean that steadiness cannot happen before Third Series. The steps can happen in any series. The steps can happen to a yogi or a non yogi. It can happen in a day, years or a lifetime. Steadiness is a quality from within. We just have to figure out how to connect with it.

Turning these qualities into Yoga sequences allows us to experience them from the level of the body. For many, that will be it. For others, they will be able to translate it into the level of mind and spirit. When we can make this shift, we can start to experience divine steadiness in the mind. When our mind is steady, our attachment to thoughts start to wane. When this happens, we began to see the world clearly. We gain access to knowledge simply by meditating on it. We can experience all facets of life without loosing our connection with ourselves and the world around us. When we have this, we have divine steadiness in our lives.  Will your teacher give you Third Series? Maybe. Maybe not. However, when you find internal divine steadiness, you will have a Primary Series practice with a Third Series feel. LOL.




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

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