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Threading the Sutra

Yoga Sutra 1:12

abhyasa-vairagyabhyam tan-nirodhah

The mind is made tranquil by practice and non-attachment

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is a mystical text that guides you from a lack of awareness about who you are, to one of profound grounding in who you are.

In sutra 1.2, Patanjali describes the definition of yoga as the experience where thoughts subside on the field of our minds. Sutra 1.12 gives the aspirant clues about how to experience the state beyond thoughts. It says, in order to experience quiet in the mind you must practice. As you practice, vairagya will naturally rise in you.

When the mind becomes quiet your true Self is apparent.

Developing Practice Through Sutra Study

The Sanskrit word Abhyasa translates as both repetition and practice. In chapter one of the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali cites the notion of practice as the cornerstone of his Yoga model. According to Patanjali, practice is the antidote to man’s suffering. It is the panacea that brings healing to the misbelief that we are something that we are not, i.e., the body and mind alone.

Patanjali says, Abhyasa-Vairagyabhyam Tan Nirodhah 1.12
This sutra states that the process of misidentification with what we are not subsides through abhyasa, practice and vairagya, non-attachment. Another way to say this is: To experience what you truly are, begin to study what practice and non-attachment mean because according to Patanjali, these are the elements that lead to freedom.

If practice is the crux upon which freedom hinges, then the next question is: What is practice?

In sutra 1.14 Patanjali answers this question when he states:

Sa Tu Dirgha-Kala-Nairantarya-Satkarasevito-Drdha-Bhumih 1.14
The sutra says, practice becomes firmly established over a long period of time, when without interruption, with constant effort, dedicated focus, and great love, one fixes one’s mind on the higher Self.

In sutra 1.14, Patanjali describes the full nature of a mature yogic mind. He defines practice as evolving naturally over a long time without any rush. By indicating that, time must thread through the teachings. He is saying that you must take your understanding of yoga with you into each new life experience you have, and that each time you return to formal teachings bring all of your life experiences to those teachings as well. When you do this, you gain great insights and a wider yogic perspective.

Patanjali also describes the nature of both the practice and the practitioner, providing the student with a guide. As the student follows this map, the floor emerges underneath. When this happens, even though you move through your body and mind, you do not feel bound by the body and mind alone, and you experience freedom within.

Luminous Soul Sutra Practice:

  • Each day for a month write sutras 1.12 & 1.14
  • Then each week select a new word or idea from the list below to focus on.
  • At the end of the week, write down your insights.

Sutra 1.12

Practice & Non-Attachment.

Sutra 1.14

What builds a firm ground?:

a long time,
not rushed,

Qualities needed by the student:

constant effort,
great love,
ability to fix one’s mind on the higher Self.


© 2014 Luminous Soul/Sanskrit Studies & Manorama