First text on Yoga


Critique of Sanskrit and Indian texts—

All of it is too weird and mystical for me?

Yoga— yoking, union. *yewg-o-s— from *yewg— “to join”. Also same notion of a “yoke”. “Yoke walk”?

योग  (yóga) stemm (Vedic yáuga)

  1. the act of yokingjoiningattachingharnessing, putting to (of horses) quotations ▲
    • RV 10.39.12cआ तेन यातं मनसो जवीयसा रथं यं वां रभवश्चक्रुरश्विना |यस्य योगे दुहिता जायते दिव उभे अहनीसुदिने विवस्वतः ||ā́ téna yātam mánaso jávīyasā rátʰaṃ yáṃ vām r̥bʰávaś cakrúr aśvinā |yásya yóge duhitā́ jā́yate divá ubʰé áhanī sudíne vivásvataḥ ||Come on that Chariot which the Rbhus wrought for you, the Chariot, Asvins, that is speedier than thought,At harnessing whereof Heaven’s Daughter springs to birth, and from Vivasvan come auspicious Night and Day.


Borrowed from Sanskrit योग (yóga, “yoking, union”), from Proto-Indo-Aryan *yáwgas, from Proto-Indo-Iranian *yáwgas, from Proto-Indo-European *yéwg-o-s, from *yewg- (“to join”) (whence also yoke).

Why it called yoga

Yuj (to yoke, unite, join)—

The term “yoga” originates from the Sanskrit root “yuj,” which means “to yoke,” “to unite,” or “to join.” This concept reflects the primary aim of yoga, which is the unification of the individual’s consciousness with the universal consciousness, suggesting a state of harmony between the mind and body, and between the individual self and the universal spirit. The practice of yoga is thus called so because it embodies the journey towards achieving this integration and balance, encompassing not just physical postures (asanas) but also ethical disciplines, breath control (pranayama), and meditation, among other practices.

The name “yoga” encapsulates the essence of this ancient discipline as a path towards self-realization and enlightenment, signifying the union that it seeks to achieve — between thought and action, restraint and fulfillment, harmony between humans, and the natural world. Through the practice of yoga, one endeavors to transcend the limitations of the ego and the physical self, reaching a state of spiritual and mental peace.

Here are some notable quotes from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali that encapsulate key aspects of its philosophy and teachings:

  1. On the nature of the mind and yoga: “Yoga is the cessation of the movements of the mind. Then there is abiding in the Seer’s own form.” (Chapter 1, Sutra 2-3) This suggests that yoga aims to quiet the mind to achieve a state of pure awareness or consciousness.
  2. On practice and detachment: “Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness.” (Chapter 1, Sutra 14) This emphasizes the importance of consistent and dedicated practice in yoga.
  3. On overcoming obstacles: “The obstacles to the path of yoga are disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false perception, failure to reach firm ground, and slipping from the ground gained.” (Chapter 1, Sutra 30) Patanjali outlines the challenges on the path of yoga and the need to overcome them.
  4. On the power of concentration: “By mastery of samyama comes the light of awareness and insight.” (Chapter 3, Sutra 5) Samyama, the combined practice of concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and absorption (samadhi), leads to deep insights and enlightenment.
  5. On inner peace: “Peace can be reached through meditation on the knowledge which dreams give. Peace can also be reached through the use of mantras.” (Chapter 1, Sutra 38) This suggests methods for achieving peace of mind and clarity.
  6. On liberation: “When the agitations of the mind are under control, the mind becomes like a transparent crystal and is able to take on the form of whatever is focused upon, whether it be the observer, the process of observing, or the object being observed.” (Chapter 1, Sutra 41) Liberation is achieved when one has control over the mind and can maintain a state of pure awareness.

These quotes reflect the depth and breadth of the Yoga Sutras, addressing the mental, spiritual, and practical aspects of yoga practice.

The first known text on yoga is the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which is a collection of 196 sutras or aphorisms. Written around 400 CE, this text lays out the philosophical framework for yoga, detailing the path to achieving the ultimate goal of yoga—union of the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness, or liberation (moksha). The Yoga Sutras describe the eight limbs (Ashtanga) of yoga, which include ethical precepts (Yamas and Niyamas), physical postures (Asanas), breath control (Pranayama), withdrawal of the senses (Pratyahara), concentration (Dharana), meditation (Dhyana), and absorption (Samadhi). This foundational work is not just a religious or spiritual document but also a psychological and practical guide to the practice of yoga, emphasizing the importance of the mind in achieving wellness and enlightenment.


You can find PDF versions of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali online for free. Here are a few sources where you can download them:

  1. Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by B. K. S. Iyengar at, which includes a new introduction by B.K.S. Iyengar and a foreword by Godfrey Devereux oai_citation:1,Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali : B. K. S. Iyengar : Free ….
  2. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Swami Satchidananda at, providing a translation and commentary on the sutras oai_citation:2,The yoga sutras of Patanjali : Satchidananda, Swami, 1914-2002 : Free ….
  3. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras with The Commentary Of Vyasa And The Gloss Of Vachaspati Mishra at, featuring translations of both the Vyāsa-bhāṣya and the Tattvavaiśāradī commentaries into English oai_citation:3,Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras with The Commentary Of Vyasa And The Gloss Of ….

These versions offer different perspectives and commentaries on the Yoga Sutras, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of this foundational text.