Yoga Sutra 1.2

 In Yoga Sutras

Yoga Sutra 1.2: योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः


yogaś chitta vṛitti nirodhaḥ 

(yow-gahs chit-tah vṛit-ti niroad-ah-ha)


“Yoga is the ceasing of the thoughts”


Yoga Sutra 1.2 defines the practice of yoga as the ceasing or calming of the thoughts. At this point in our yogic studies we begin to question the overreaching energy of the mind by observing the nature of the mind itself. We ask ourselves, what is happening in my mind?

Observing the Mind

When we observe the mind we see that the mind moves from thought process to thought process in an unbroken sequence. The mind is searching out the next thought or the next object of entertainment. 

Dennis Hill artfully translates this sutra as: “Yoga is the restraint of objectification by the mind.”

The mind is set to the constant task of identifying and objectifying the world around us.  The mind is so involved in this constant state of trying to discern one thing from another that it can be difficult to pause for a moment and just rest. 

The minds relationship with the past & future

The mind is also in a constant state of memory recall. Whether replaying events from the past or simply calling up the memory of where you keep an item. The mind is bringing the past into the present moment.

In the first yoga sutra we spoke of not waiting for the future to act. The mind may dream of the future but not engage in the action of the present. Of course we need to have some planning for the future or how could we know when to plant and harvest our food? Future thought can often lead to worry and comparison. Further complicating the constant thought process experienced by the mind. 

The Space Between the Thoughts

Yoga Sutra 1.2 doesn’t explicitly say anything about what happens when we break the cycle of thoughts but it is foreshadowing an important aspect of yoga practice that is to come. When we practice yoga (which we are learning is meditation) we slow down enough to see the thoughts arising.  The yoga practitioner begins to lengthen the calm space between the thoughts and experience the stillness (Stambha) that resides there.

You may have experienced this in your Yoga Asana practice as well! Moving the body and the breath in asana is a moving meditation and helps to lengthen the experience of yogic stillness experiences in the mind.

What makes up the mind? 

In this yogic philosophy we see that the mind is composed of three separate but interrelated parts.  Our thoughts and actions are said to be expressed from our:

  • Manas – Instinct
  • Ahamkara – Ego, sense of self
  • Buddhi Intellect


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