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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali-Illuminated (Second Edition) Hardcover – October 17, 2011
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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are based on a dualist philosophy that regards the universe as consisting of two realities i) consciousness, and ii) the phenomenal realm of matter. While similar to the mind versus body dualism which has confounded western religions since their inception, the Sutras de-personalize dualism and focus on spirituality as a means to understand the connectivity between people as conscious beings and the perceived world in which they operate. While Gary's translation of the Sutras includes much of the original Sanskrit terminology and honors the Indian heritage of Yoga, its focus on the universal principles of Yoga, which are designed to help one live a good life and achieve mental harmony, make it a true non-denominational book. In our modern world, where information overload affects us all, the guidance provided by the Sutras can benefit all regardless of religious belief. The imagery in the book drawn from a wide range of cultures, including American Indian around which Gary spent his formative years, furthers the notion that an understanding of the Sutras is designed to help one see their position in the experienced world, not to influence one's faith. The Sutras are divided into four chapters: i) Samadhi Pada (concerning the quieting of the mind), ii) Sadhana Pada (concerning the tools by which one can achieve mental calm), iii) Vibhuti Pada (concerning the advanced mental states that can be achieved by calming the mind), and iv) Kaivalya Pada (concerning the nature of liberation that can be achieved through Yoga). Gary's book covers the first two chapters and part of the third (some of the tools referenced by Chapter Two are further described in the first part of Chapter Three). The remainder of Chapter Three and Chapter Four of the Sutras are highly esoteric and beyond the scope of Gary's book. The tools by which one can calm the mind and achieve independence from the distractions of every day life, the main topic of Chapter Two and part of Three, are best described by the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. The first five, referred to as the external aids, include: i) the five abstentions (such as non-violence, non-possessiveness, and truth in word and thought), ii) the five observances (such as cleanliness of body and mind, satisfaction and austerity), iii) discipline of the body, iv) control of breath, and v) the withdrawal of the senses from external objects. The last three are referred to as internal aids and include: i) concentration, ii) meditation, and iii) contemplation. The Yoga practitioner is seeking clarity of mind, an understanding of the inter-connectivity of all things, not isolation from the world as is often believed. The Yoga Sutras provide guidelines to help the practitioner see through to that inter-connectivity without the distractions associated with our everyday lives. Gary's book provides a readable, understandable version of the Sutras that highlights the relevancy of Yoga to our modern world. Sutra 1.41 states that "When the modifications of the mind are under control, the mind becomes like a naturally pure crystal, reflecting the knower; the known, and the act of knowing." In a world burdened by too much information, causing people to too easily retreat to the comfort of accepted ideologies, Gary's edition of the Sutras provides an aesthetic non-denominational guideline promoting self-reflection and self-understanding. It is a valuable addition to Yogic literature. --Amazon Book Review
I'm a new Yoga practitioner and am really enjoying the physical components of Yoga: the stretching and flexibility poses, the balance, core strengthening, overall conditioning and meditation. The mind, body and spirit connection of Yoga is what I've been seeking... And Yoga class gave me the mind and body pieces, but not the spiritual piece. This book on the Yoga sutras is exactly what I've been needing to explain the philosophy behind the practice of Yoga in a relatively simple and beautiful way. It is not a religious book, but it is totally spiritual! It's very user friendly for the novice, like me, who has never studied Yoga. The pages are beautifully laid out with gorgeous photos to offer a visual aid to better understand each sutra, which is written in Sanskrit with it's English translation above it. There is also a relevant quote provided with each sutra to further elaborate on the meaning and give the reader a context in which to truly understand the point or lesson being taught. This really helps me understand what I know would otherwise be completely incomprehensible for anyone who had not devoted years to studying Yoga philosophy. The book is small... Just the right size for my purse or bag, and it is hardback which makes it very sturdy for my busy lifestyle. It has journal pages included for my reflective thoughts. This is my new favorite book as it functions as a kind of daily devotional to enrich my spirit and Yoga journey. It 's also a perfect gift for anyone who enjoys a Yoga practice at any level. --Amazon Book Review
Gary's book is currently one of my favorite books I have ever read. I have been reading it every night to clarify my thoughts and intentions before I go to bed and I have never felt better. I think the idea to incorporate visual imagery as well as clear explanations of the Sutras was brilliant. His writing is clear and concise, and it is so interesting to read. I just spent 8 weeks this summer studying the Sutras and yoga in general, and I still had a very murky vision of what it all meant or how I could incorporate it into my life. Gary's book has cleared up so much for me and I am so grateful I was able to receive a copy. The book itself is beautiful! I love keeping it with me and just flipping through whenever I have a spare minute. The colors and text and all of the tactile elements are wonderful. In my mind, it perfectly portrays the way I would want a book on the Yoga Sutras to look, and it inspires me to keep reading and rereading it. I would absolutely recommend this book for anyone interested in yoga or meditation, or just interested in a healthy mind! It will change the way you move through life in the greatest way possible. --Amazon Book Review
About the Author
Gary was introduced to Eastern philosophy in college when he discovered the writings of Alan Watts which led to studies in Zen and Zen-inspired poetry. Gary found yoga in 2000 as a way to recover from back trauma and has been studying and practicing yoga since that time. Gary has a Certificate of Yoga Philosophy from the California Institute of Integral Studies. He has studied yoga at Esalen Institute, Big Sur California, Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh, India and Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville, Virginia. Gary has photographed many spiritual sites and experiences in his travels throughout Asia. After four years of study and writing, he published his first book entitled: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali- Illuminations Through Image, Commentary and Design. The book provides a new and inviting approach to studying and living the Yoga Sutras by using imagery, poetry and quotation to illuminate the heart of the Sutras. The book sold out and the Second Edition has been published. After Gary s book on the Yoga Sutras was published, he began to get speaking invitations and now teaches workshops on the yoga philosophy, ethics and law for Yoga teacher training programs. Gary is on the teaching faculty of Breathe Yoga of Los Gatos, California. Gary co-leads spiritual trips to Nepal, India and Tibet with Jennifer Prugh of Breathe Yoga. Gary is on a Yoga Alliance Committee that is writing its new Code of Conduct and is on the Board of Directors of the Integral Yoga Institute-San Francisco.
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been a crowning achievement if only it was the complete Yoga Sutra.
The format of the book tends to follow the same style throughout. Each chapter opens with a quote, sometimes two, about the group of Sutras being addressed in that section. Kissiah then provides a few pages of commentary. On the pages that follow, he will individually list each Sutra--including both its English translation and the original Sanskrit--and then provides an interpretation of the Sutra from one of many scholars. Some of the sources quoted in the book include Sri Swami Satchidananda, Sri Swami Vivekananada, Bhagavad Gita, Sri Swami Krishnananda, H.H. Dalai Lama, the Upanishads, Thich Nhat Hanh, T.K.V. Desikacher, and Christopher Isherwood.
I enjoyed reading this book. I don't think a student of yoga can every get enough exposure to the Sutras; every rereading is helpful. I would not recommend this book as your only Sutra resource, but I don't think author Gary Kissiah intends it to be. As a supplement to your other studies of Patanjali, this is definitely a worthwhile guide.