This document is a compilation of background information on yoga drawn from Light on Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by BKS Iyengar, A History of Yoga by Vivian Worthington, (now out of print) and Barbara Stoller Miller, Yoga: Discipline of freedom to provide the student with an introduction to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Following articles will outline the themes in Yoga Sutras. Through this series of articles I hope to give the student an introduction to the themes in the Yoga sutras so that they might go on to read and explore more.
From History of Yoga by Vivian Worthington
‘Yoga is very ancient, certainly much older than the archaeological record, which is the only reliable one we have at present. The archaeological finds indicate a well-established system of yoga practice, which must have existed long before the figurines and seals that have been found were fashioned. One of the difficulties of tracing a history of yoga has been that by its nature it leaves nothing behind except myths and legends of miraculous powers possessed by some of the more accomplished practitioners of the art. Only in the last thousand years or so have efforts been made to provide it with intellectual content such as would elevate it to the status of philosophy in its own right. The attempts have not been successful because yoga is not an intellectual activity. So in India it has tended to run in harness with the Samkhya philosophy, of which more later. Yoga has in fact tended all along to be anti-intellectual, even anti-religious. To be true to itself it must ever stand close to the spontaneous fount of human creativity. It is more intuitive than reasonable, more experimental than formalistic, more other-worldly than of this world, and more akin to art than to science.History of Yoga by Vivian Worthington
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