Seeking Inspiration? Source It In These 30 Yoga Sutras

There's so much more to yoga than what happens on the mat. When you need a little push in the right direction or a fresh perspective, the Yoga Sutra is your guidebook for living with intention. We handpicked 30 essential sutras to return to again and again.

  • <i>Atha yoga anushasanam</i>

    Atha yoga anushasanam

    Now, the teachings of yoga.

    —Yoga Sutra I.1

  • <i>Yoga citta vritti nirodhah</i>

    Yoga citta vritti nirodhah

    Yoga is the ending of disturbances of the mind.

    —Yoga Sutra I.2

    See also Intro to Yoga Philosophy: Sutra School 1.2

  • <i>Tada drastuh svarupe avasthanam</i>

    Tada drastuh svarupe avasthanam

    As a result of yoga or sustained, focused attention, the Self, or Seer, is firmly established in its own form, and we act from a place from our own true, authentic Self.

    —Yoga Sutra I.3

    See also Sanskrit Top 40: Must-Learn Lingo for Yogis

  • <i>Vrttayah pancatayyah klistaklistah pramana viparyaya vikalpa nidra smrtayah</i>

    Vrttayah pancatayyah klistaklistah pramana viparyaya vikalpa nidra smrtayah

    There are five functions or activities of the mind, which can either cause us problems or not. They are: correct perception, misunderstanding, imagination, deep sleep, and memory.

    —Yoga Sutra I.5–6

    See also The Five States of Mind

  • <i>Abhyasa vairagyabhyam tat nirodhah</i>

    Abhyasa vairagyabhyam tat nirodhah

    In order to achieve a state of yoga, one must develop both practice and detachment.

    —Yoga Sutra I.12

    See also Make the Space for Your Practice

  • <i>Tatra sthitau yatnah abhyasa</i>

    Tatra sthitau yatnah abhyasa

    Effort toward steadiness of mind is practice.

    —Yoga Sutra I.13

    See also Patanjali Never Said Anything About Alignment

  • <i>Sa tu dirgha kala nairantarya satkara adara asevita drdha bhumih</i>

    Sa tu dirgha kala nairantarya satkara adara asevita drdha bhumih

    To achieve a strong foundation in our practice, we must practice over a long time, without interruption, believing 
in it and looking forward to it, with an attitude of service.

    —Yoga Sutra I.14

    See also Patanjali Never Said Practice Is Optional

  • <i>Vitarka vicara ananda asmitarupa anugamat samprajnatah</i>

    Vitarka vicara ananda asmitarupa anugamat samprajnatah

    In order to reach a state of complete understanding, we must go through a process that progresses from a superficial understanding to increasingly greater refinement and subtlety of comprehension, until our understanding becomes fully integrated and total.

    —Yoga Sutra I.17

    See also Slow Down + Take Time to Learn

  • <i>Shraddha virya smrti samadhi prajna purvakah itaresham</i>

    Shraddha virya smrti samadhi prajna purvakah itaresham

    For those of us who were not born into states of higher consciousness or knowing, we must cultivate self-confidence and conviction to help us maintain our persistence and strength, and to remember our direction so that we may attain our goal of a focused mind and clear perception.

    —Yoga Sutra I.20

    See also Consciousness in Motion: Vinyasa

  • <i>Isvara pranidhanat va</i>

    Isvara pranidhanat va

    [Samadhi is attained] through complete and total surrender to a higher power.

    —Yoga Sutra I.23

    See also Tap Your Higher Power

  • <i>Taj japas tad artha bhavanam</i>

    Taj japas tad artha bhavanam

    The recitation of that [syllable, OM] [leads to] the contemplation of its meaning.

    —Yoga Sutra I.28

    See also Intro to Chanting, Mantra, and Japa

  • <i>Tatah pratyakcetanadhigamah api antarayabhavas ca</i>

    Tatah pratyakcetanadhigamah api antarayabhavas ca

    Then, the inner consciousness is revealed, we come to know the true Self, and our obstacles are reduced.

    —Yoga Sutra I.29

    See also Master Your Mind to Come Closer to Your True Self

  • <i>Maitri karuna mudita upekshanam sukha duhkha punyapunya visayanam 
bhavanatah citta prasadanam</i>

    Maitri karuna mudita upekshanam sukha duhkha punyapunya visayanam 
bhavanatah citta prasadanam

    By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.

    —Yoga Sutra I.33

    See also 6 Steps To Channel Envy + Fulfill Your Greatest Potential

  • <i>Pracchardana vidharanabhyam va pranasya</i>

    Pracchardana vidharanabhyam va pranasya

    Or that calm is retained by the controlled exhalation and retention of the breath.

    —Yoga Sutra I.34

    See also Transform Your Practice With Better Breathing

  • <i>Visoka va jyotismati</i>

    Visoka va jyotismati

    Or, [by concentrating on] the light within, which is free from all suffering and sorrow.

    —Yoga Sutra I.36

    See also Connect with Your Inner Spark

  • <i>Anityasuci dhkhanatmasu nitya suci sukhatmakhyatir avidya</i>

    Anityasuci dhkhanatmasu nitya suci sukhatmakhyatir avidya

    Ignorance is regarding the impermanent as the permanent, the impure as pure, the painful as pleasant, and the non-Self as the Self.

    —Yoga Sutra II.5

    See also Understand Avidya To See Yourself As You Are

  • <i>Drgdarsana saktyoh ekatmata iva asmita</i>

    Drgdarsana saktyoh ekatmata iva asmita

    False identification is confusing the nature of the seer or Self with the nature of the instrument of perception. In other words, false identification happens when we mistake the mind, body, or senses for the true Self.

    —Yoga Sutra II.6

    See also How to See Your True Self

  • <i>Parinama tapa samskara duhkhaih guna vrtti virodhaccha duhkham evam sarvam vivekinah</i>

    Parinama tapa samskara duhkhaih guna vrtti virodhaccha duhkham evam sarvam vivekinah

    Change, longing, habits, and the activity of the gunas can all cause us suffering. In fact, even the wise suffer, for suffering is everywhere.

    —Yoga Sutra II.15

    See also Life Happens: The Yoga Sutra’s Take on Suffering

  • <i>Heyam duhkham anagatam</i>

    Heyam duhkham anagatam

    Prevent the suffering that is yet to come.

    —Yoga Sutra II.16

    See also Reduce Suffering: How Yoga Heals

  • <i>Drashtr drshyayoh samyogo heya hetuh</i>

    Drashtr drshyayoh samyogo heya hetuh

    The cause of our suffering is the inability to distinguish between what is the truth (what perceives) and what appears to be the truth (what is perceived).

    —Yoga Sutra II.17

    See also Stoke Your Spirit: 31 Images to Inspire Transcendence

  • <i>Sva svami saktyoh svarupa upalabdhi hetuh samyogah</i>

    Sva svami saktyoh svarupa upalabdhi hetuh samyogah

    The inability to discern between the temporary, fluctuating mind and our own true Self, which is ­eternal, is the cause of our suffering, yet this suffering provides us with the opportunity to make this distinction and to learn and grow from it, by understanding the true nature of each.

    —Yoga Sutra II.23

    See also The Yoga Sutra: Your Guide To Living Every Moment

  • <i>Vitarka badhane 
pratipaksha bhavanam</i>

    Vitarka badhane 
pratipaksha bhavanam

    When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite ones should be thought of.

    —Yoga Sutra II.33

    See also Tantra Meditation: Explore Negative + Positive Mind Energy

  • <i>Samtosad anuttamah sukhalabha</i>

    Samtosad anuttamah sukhalabha

    From contentment, incomparable happiness is obtained.

    —Yoga Sutra II.42

    See also Path to Happiness: 9 Interpretations of the Yamas + Niyamas

  • <i>Sthira sukham asanam </i>

    Sthira sukham asanam

    Seated posture should be steady and comfortable.

    —Yoga Sutra II.46

    See also Meditation Sutra: Sthira Sukham Asanam

  • <i>Tato dvandvanabhighatah</i>

    Tato dvandvanabhighatah

    Thereafter [making a posture firm and comfortable], one is undisturbed by dualities.

    —Yoga Sutra II.48

    See also Everything You Need to Know About Meditation Posture

  • <i>Tatah ksiyate prakasavaranam</i>

    Tatah ksiyate prakasavaranam

    As its result, the veil over the inner Light is destroyed.

    —Yoga Sutra II.52

    See also Yoga Wisdom: How to Spark Your Inner Light + Share It

  • <i>Sarvarthataikagratayoh ksyayodayau cittasya samadhiparinamah</i>

    Sarvarthataikagratayoh ksyayodayau cittasya samadhiparinamah

    When there is a decline in distractedness and appearance of one-pointedness, then comes samadhi parinamah (development in samadhi).

    —Yoga Sutra III.11

    See also Stoke Your Spirit: 5 Ways to Move Toward Samadhi.

  • <i>Samskara saksat karanat purvajati jnanam</i>

    Samskara saksat karanat purvajati jnanam

    Through sustained focus and meditation on our patterns, habits, and conditioning, we gain knowledge and understanding of our past and of how we can change the patterns that aren’t serving us to live more freely and fully.

    —Yoga Sutra III.18

    See also Break Bad Habits Patanjali’s Way

  • <i>Hrdaye citta samvit</i>

    Hrdaye citta samvit

    By samyama on the heart, knowledge of the mind is obtained.

    —Yoga Sutra III.36

    See also Mandy Ingber’s Sequence to Heal Your Heart + Embrace Joy

  • <i>Vastu samye citta bhedat tayor vibhaktah panthah</i>

    Vastu samye citta bhedat tayor vibhaktah panthah

    Due to differences in various minds, perception of even the same object may vary.

    —Yoga Sutra IV.15

    See also Dharma Mittra’s Practice to Develop Mindful Perception

To learn more: Yoga Journal co-founder Judith Hanson Lasater, PhD, and her daughter, Lizzie Lasater, have partnered with YJ to bring you a six-week interactive online course on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. Through study of this fundamental text, the Lasaters, with more than 50 years of combined teaching experience, will support you in deepening your practice and broadening your understanding of yoga. Sign up now for a transformative journey to learn, practice, and live the Sutra.