Uncategorized,  Yoga Philosophy,  Yoga Sutras

Yoga Sutras For Modern Life: The Yoga Only Works if We work

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 2:11: When the Kleshas are full blown or manifest, they can be subdued through meditation. 

Defining the Sutra:

5 Kleshas

  1. Ignorance (avidya)
  2. Ego (asmita)
  3. Attachment to Pleasure (raga)
  4. Aversion to Pain (dvesa)
  5. Fear of Death (abhinivesah)


When the Kleshas are taking over your life, meditate on them.  This does not necessarily mean sitting on a cushion with crossed legs with your eyes closed. It is referring to acknowledging them, noticing that they are a result of ignorance of the true self and getting yourself to a place where you can make a different choice.

Modern Day Application:

The Yoga Sutras constantly reiterates that change takes work. This portion of the Sutras is still referring to Karma Yoga, the Yoga of Action, which has three parts:


Self Study

Surrender to Isvara or pure awareness

To get rid of fear, ignorance, attachment, and aversion, we have to have discipline, be willing to study our actions in relation to the scriptures and sacred knowledge and acknowledge that it is our lack of connection to pure awareness that keeps us in their clutches. The Sutras suggest that we do this through meditation or sitting in contemplation of the Kleshas. Who is willing to do this?


Why This is Important:

We all want to believe that we are going to be the ones who spontaneously awaken. We want to be the ones who can create a new life simply by a thought alone. Indeed, those people are out there, but this book is not for those people. As the first verse of the Yoga Sutras says, “And now Yoga”. This book is for those who have tried everything else and it didn’t work and now it is time to give Yoga a go. The Yoga only works if we work. If what we were doing before was working, we wouldn’t need it. We must be disciplined enough to follow through.



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.

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