The Four Chapters of the Yoga Sutras
Call it a religion, a way of life, or an exercise of spirit, every system of belief relies on authoritative texts to provide basic guidelines for living a purposeful and meaningful life. In yoga, this text is a collection of aphorisms by Patanjali called the Yoga Sutras. Divided into four chapters, the Yoga Sutras offer many dictums of self-realization and techniques for spiritual evolution aimed at both body and mind.
The Four Yoga Sutras
Written in Sanskrit, where the word sutra means a thread, the four Yoga Sutras are not the oldest nor the only authoritative text on practicing yoga. Patanjali’s sutras are, however, the most popular and widely recognized techniques for training one’s body, evolving one’s mind, and achieving fulfillment.
Patanajali’s immense body of wisdom is a collection of 196 aphorisms for which some yogis say they unlock the true mystery of body and mind only when they are read in the original Sanskrit. But, even in English, sutras reveal elegance and brevity that inspire thought and spark philosophical discussion.
In them, the deep truth of ancient yoga remains hidden for centuries.
The four chapters are Samadhi, Sadhana, Vibhuti, and Kaivalya.
Every attempt to fathom their true meaning is a step closer to enlightenment.
1. Samadhi Pada
In Sanskrit, the word pada means a chapter. Samadhi Pada is, therefore, the first of four chapters in the Yoga Sutra, the one that sets you off on a path of enlightenment through the art of meditation.
Samadhi pada does so through 51 sutras that teach you the core postulates of yoga, the obstacles you need to overcome, the importance of constant practice or abhyasa, and the detachment from material experiences or vairagya. According to sage Patanjali, this is the process of becoming One.
2. Sadhana Pada
But before you can accomplish any of this, you must commit yourself to abhyasa – the constant and continual practice. That’s why the second Pada introduces the Yamas and the Eight-Limbed system.
Sadhana Pada outlines the principles of Ashtanga yoga, Kriya yoga, and Karma. It also introduces the Eight Limbs of Yoga with a focus on the first six limbs – Yamas (ethical standards), Niyamas (self-discipline), Asana (yoga postures), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (withdrawal), and Dharana (concentration).
3. Vibhuti Pada
Vibhuti Pada brings you another step closer to the promised unity and teaches you how to improve your results and harness the power achieved in the process. It’s also about empowering your mind.
This third chapter focuses on the last two Limbs of Yoga, the first of which is Dhyana (mindful meditation or contemplation). The eighth, and last stage of Ashtanga, Samadhi (ecstasy), is here interpreted as a state of ecstasy where the Self is finally transcended, and the interconnectedness is fully achieved.
4. Kaivalya Pada
The last chapter of Yoga Sutra reflects back on what is achieved by one’s mind, thus preparing you for the complete and utter liberation (moksha). It’s the last stage of yoga and the grand finale of the sutras.
As a unique system of belief that promises mindfulness through meditation, practice, and liberation, the Yoga Sutras are rooted deep into the Ashtanga Yoga, or the Eight Limbs of Yoga, given to yogis by the sage Patanjali after his evolved soul had returned in human form to relieve us of our sorrows.
Practice them with an open mind and feel your inner light guiding the present moment. And if you’re a teacher looking for a bit of extra information on how to create the safest environment while practicing these sutras, read about our yoga insurance offers today!