The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a collection of Sanskrit sutras (verses) on the theory and practice of yoga – 195 sutras (according to Vyāsa and Krishnamacharya). The Yoga Sutra was compiled sometime between 500 BC and AD400 by the sage Patanjali in India who systemize & documented that time knowledge of Yoga & its benefits for the complete human race.

Patanjali Yoga is that system which consists of eight stages: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dhrana, dhyana, samadhi, it is therefore widely called ashtanga yoga, the yoga of eight stages.

Yoga Sutras has its roots based on the Samkhya Philosophy, which is said to have been formulated by Rishi Kapila. The samkhya system dispenses with all theories of God; it says that the existence or non-existence of god is irrelevant to personal sadhna, spiritual practice. Buddha said the same thing he taught neither belief nor disbelief in God. Sage Patanjali, on the other hand, differs from both Samkhya & Buddhism as he introduces the concept of God, with the powerful means of sadhna & Ishwar Pranidhan where he described them as the practices of self-realization for those inclined towards the path of Bhakti Yoga.

All the techniques of Raja yoga existed long before sage patanjali, even in a latent seed form within the collective unconscious mind. The Yoga Sutras are probably a compilation of previously known verses handed down from guru to disciple by word of mouth. It was the genius of someone called Patanjali who put the system into a comprehensive written whole.

The Patanjali Yoga Sutras is the most precise and scientific text ever written on yoga. It is divide into four chapters:

Samadhi Pada: Consisting 51 verses.  Samadhi refers to a state of supreme being where the yogi’s self-identity is absorbed into pure consciousness, collapsing the categories of witness, witnessing, and witnessed. Samadhi is the main technique the yogi learns by which to dive into the depths of the mind to achieve Kaivalya (liberation). The author describes yoga and then the nature and the means of attaining samādhi.

Sadhna Pada: Consisting of 55 verses.  Sadhana is the Sanskrit word for “practice” or “discipline”. Here the author outlines two systems of Yoga: Kriya Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga (Eightfold or Eight Limbed Yoga).

  • Kriya Yoga in the Yoga Sutras is the practice of three of the Niyamas of Ashtanga Yoga


  1. Tapas– austerity
  2. Svadhyaya– self-study of the scriptures
  3. Ishwara Pranidhana  – devotion to god or pure consciousness


  • Ashtanga Yoga is the yoga of eight limbs:


  1. Yama – restraints or ethics of behaviour
  2. Niyama– observances
  3. Asana– physical postures
  4. Pranayama– control of the prana(breath)
  5. Pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses
  6. Dharana– concentration
  7. Dhayana– meditation
  8. Samadhi– absorption


Vibhuti Pada: consisting of 56 verses. Vibhuti is the Sanskrit word for “power” or “manifestation”. ‘Supra-normal powers’ (siddhi) are acquired by the practice of yoga. Combined simultaneous practice of Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi is referred to as Samyama, and is considered a tool of achieving various perfections, or Siddhis. These powers can become an obstacle to the yogi who seeks liberation.

Kaivalya Pada: Consisting of 34 verses.  Kaivalya literally translates to “isolation”, but as used in the Sutras stands for emancipation or liberation and is used where other texts often employ the term moksha (liberation). The Kaivalya Pada describes the process of liberation and the reality of the transcendental ego.

Further Reading

What is Yoga?

History of Yoga

Misconceptions about Yoga

Fundamentals Of Yoga

9 Principles Of Yoga

Yoga Basics

Panch Mahabhutas



Astanga Yoga

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