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The Essential Yoga Sutra: Ancient Wisdom for Your Yoga Paperback – December 27, 2005
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From the Inside Flap
Patanjali organized the sutra into four parts: Samadhi (absorption), Sadhana (practice), Vibhuti (supernatural powers), and Kaivalya (liberation). Each represents a step in breaking free of our limited definition of consciousness and training the mind to achieve oneness with the universe. Geshe Michael Roach, one of the most respected teachers of Tibetan Buddhism in America and a renowned scholar of Sanskrit, provides authoritative commentary on each of the sutras. His notes and clarification are straightforward and highly readable, untainted by obscure, academic terminology or New Age jargon. The first edition of the Yoga Sutra to present a Buddhist perspective, this paperback original will be welcomed by students and spiritual seekers alike.
Top Customer Reviews
As I feel this is a really important book written at a very important time (20 million yoga practitioners in the US alone can't be wrong :-), I also want to address a few of the criticisms I read in some of the other reviews. Given, this is a short book, so sometimes the ideas or concepts it explains need to be studied further to be fully understood, but it is meant to be an introduction, as the title "Essential" indicates--it is not meant to be a treatise on every aspect of the Yoga Sutra.
That said, I think it is especially unfair to criticize it for not being based on Vedantic philosophy. Claiming that this book is wrong, or misleading, because it's based on Buddhist rather than Vedantic philosophy is the same as a Catholic saying Protestants can't interpret the Bible. The same thing. I think most of us have gone past that kind of argument.
When I recommend this book I tell students to set it by their bed and just before they go to sleep, pick it up and read a page or two to think about something inspiring and uplifting before you go to sleep. Try it, I think you will find it worth your while.
Having studied authentic Sanskrit texts under a guru in a proper lineage and practiced yoga for nearly four decades myself, I would suggest to readers that where one gets spiritual information is as important as what one reads. For many of us, Roach is too controversial to be seen as a reliable reference. Despite his accolades and scholarship, his sophistries seem sentimental and wishy washy, not likely to ignite the fire of tapasya (ardor and austerity) in anyone, although good points do glimmer occasionally through the haze. Those who are content to skim the surface of the ultimate human achievement without any expectation of attaining the real thing have found the perfect user friendly but unfortunately pirated version here.
They seem to deliberately steer clear of overly religious ways of presenting the material, so that anyone can read it - you dont have to be a card-carrying Hindu etc.
I've read their other books on yoga (How Yoga Works, The Tibetan Book of Yoga) and heard some of their talks, and in my opinion this book is a successful distillation of the practical wisdom of yoga. If you want a more detailed work, try one of their other books, mentioned above.
Most importantly, it is easy to get into a whole trip and get confused with the externals - for me this book helps me focus on the most important things: how taking care of other people is the very fuel for a successful yoga practice.
The book is laid out nicely with a simple introduction and a page dedicated to each verse of the sutra. Each page has a translation of the Sanskrit, the original Sanskrit in roman letters, and a brief discussion/explanation of the verse. The information on the pages is easily accessible to the reader. For the most part, I enjoyed reading this presentation of the yoga sutra.
Personally, I am dissatisfied with many of the explanations of the sutra. The author(s) sometimes provide obscure, far-out examples that are unrealistic and hard to relate to. For example, they speak a lot about the creation and perpetration of karmic seeds, however the reflections on how these seeds relate to our lives barely scratch the surface.
Overall this book is a nicely presented compilation of the yoga sutra. The presentation and explanation seem friendly to someone who is just getting into the Indian spiritual classics. However, if you are looking for an in-depth critical analysis of the sutra, with applicable, real world examples, then you may want to consider another book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read his past... Preaching without Practicing Hypocrisy!!!
It encourages one to make progress in one's practice.
This is a book I will revisit many times.