White Notebook - Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodhah

The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali are a condensed and systematic exposition of the essential philosophy and technique of Yoga in 196 sūtras (aphorisms). Because the text is inherently cryptic, it requires a great deal of unpacking and interpretation. It has therefore been recommended by my teacher Noah Williams not as a guide, but as a resource for gaining familiarity with Yogic terms so there is some context for what is occurring as certain experiences unfold.

The Sūtras begin with a succinct definition of Yoga in no more than four terms—yogaś-citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ. The remaining one hundred ninety-four sutras are an explication of this declaration.

Yoga is the suppression of the modifications of the mind.1

योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः ॥२॥

yogaścittavṛttinirodhaḥ ॥2॥

yoga - derived from yuj. To contemplate. Both a state and a mental process of liberating the absolute from the worldly—puruṣa from prakṛti.

  • yuj युज् - Concentration of the mind, in cessation of the modification of the thinking principle.2 (yujir samādhau not yujir yoge).3
  • samādhau समाधौ - in the controlled mind.
  • yoge योगे - work without fruitive result.

citta - derived from cit. Consciousness, the mind. Later one of three aspects of patamārmā called sat-cit-ānanda

  • sat सत् - Being, existing.
  • cit चित् - Consciousness, absolute knowledge.
  • ānanda आनन्द - Pleasure, bliss, ecstasy.

vṛtti - derived from vṛt. Contextually means activities, functionings. (YS1.6-11)

  • vṛt वृत् - To exist.

nirodhaḥ - derived from niruddham. Restrained, controlled, inhibited. (YS3.9)

  • ni नि - (a) Implying certainty, absoluteness, of an enhancing power. Frequently redundant. (b) Cessation, restraint.
  • ruddha रुद्ध - Obstructed, stopped, blocked, suppressed.

  1. Patañjali, Mukerji, P. N., & Āranya Hariharānanda. (1983). Yoga philosophy of Patañjali: Containing his yoga aphorisms with commentary of Vyāsa’s commentary in Sanskrit and a translation with annotations including many suggestions for the practice of yoga, pp. 6. State University of New York Press.
  2. yuj. Sanskrit Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2020, from sanskritdictionary.com
  3. Maehle, G. (2008). Ashtanga yoga: Practice and philosophy: A comprehnsive description of the primary series of Ashtanga yoga, following the traditional vinyasa count, and an authentic explanation of the yoga sutra of Patanjali Patanjali, pp. 141. New World Library.