Yoga Sutras 101: what are they and is yoga a religion?

here and now

The Yoga Sutras are considered the  basis for Classical Yoga as we know it today and were written down some 2000 years ago by an author cited as Patanjali.

There is much controversy as to the author’s (or authors’) identity and even the date of the manuscript, so for convenience, we’ll go for Patanjali, 2000 years.

What is generally agreed is that the author was not the founder of yoga; but, rather he was a scholarly consolidator, codifier, and recorder of an existing oral tradition and philosophy.

The Sutras were not meant to be a comprehensive ‘how-to” guide; instead,  think of them as “Cliff’s Notes”  based on teachings that passed for generations from guru to student.

Each sentence is an aphorism, concise, and loaded with meaning. They begin simply enough, “Now, the study of Yoga,” but even the word “Now”  means more than you might think. Many a swami has lectured on the Sutras without making it past the definition of now! [Read more…]

Sleepless in St. Paul? Yoga meditation for insomnia

_Yoga is known to do wonders for the body: strengthen, tone, stretch and more. However, one benefit that may surprise you: improved sleep.  It’s not uncommon to hear students rave that they get their “best night’s sleep” after yoga class.  There are endless anecdotes, but what does the research say?

While limited, there are some initial studies on the topic of yoga and insomnia.  Perhaps the most compelling is a Harvard study which found “statistically significant” improvements across several aspects of sleep quality, including sleep efficiency or SE,  and wake time after sleep onset, or WASO,  based on the sleep diaries of 20 subjects over an 8-week period of yoga practice.  (Khalsa 2004).  The study referred to yoga as a “multicomponent” practice implying the full range of classical yoga including asana (exercises), pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation and yoga nidra (final relaxation).

[Read more…]