What is Patanjali?

Patanjali is often referred to as the “father of yoga”. He is accredited for documenting his thoughts and knowledge in The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. In this work, Patanjali compiled 195 sutras that define an ethical blueprint for living a moral life and incorporating the science of yoga into one’s life. Although no one is exactly sure when Patanjali lived, it is estimated he roamed India somewhere between 200 B.C. and 200 A.D.

The origination of the word Yoga dates back thousands of years, and actually means “Union”. This Union is a unification of your body, mind, emotions, and ego. The main objective of Yoga is to help create an awareness of self. Patanjali was considered to be a fully self-realized avatar, who had mastered the mind, the body, its senses, and even this physical world. He was considered an amazing philosopher and teacher of how to master your life.

Patanjali defined 195 guidelines to enlightenment. In his teachings “The Yoga Sutra” it defines the fundamentals of the system of yoga. Surprisingly, you won’t find a single picture or description of a posture or asana. Patanjali defines an asana as a position or “to be seated in a position that is firm, but relaxed” for extended, or timeless periods. Yes, that means no downward facing dog or mountain pose in this book. So what is it? It is most simply a guide for living the right life.

And Patanjali is very clear that running off to yoga class with your mat and refillable water bottle is not the essence of point. There is more to yoga than feeling the stretch. Yoga is a way of lie. Yoga can help you cultivate body, mind, and spiritual awareness.

The heart of Patanjali’s teachings is called the eight limbs of Patanjali, because they intertwine like the branches of a tree in the forest. The principles are not law or rules. They are not commandments. They are only suggestions to living a better life through yoga.

I have always found the teachings of Patanjali inspirational and applicable in all aspects of my life. Adopting these guidelines allows me to navigate both my personal and professional life in an ethical and truthful way and strive for personal enlightenment.