Living the Sutras: A Guide to Yoga Wisdom beyond the Mat by Kelly DiNardo and Amy Pearce-Hayden, Shambhala Publications, US $16.95, Pp 200, June 2018, ISBN 9781611805499
Yoga is aimed at purifying your body and mind and put you at peace with yourself and the rest of the world. In Living the Sutras, Kelly DiNardo and Amy Pearce-Hayden give a detailed introduction of The Yoga Sutras. Guru Patanjali compiled his teachings in The Yoga Sutras some two thousand years ago. Kelly DiNardo and Amy Pearce-Hayden say that the sutras are a map of how to navigate through the challenges of human life. They contain lessons on how to deal with loss, pain, dissatisfaction, and alienation. And they provide guidance on how to cultivate joy and lead a healthy, happy, fulfilling life.
In yoga, we explore the mind, body, and spirit, and on the mat. In other and simple words, yoga makes you content, your life easy, and gives you a purpose in life. DiNardo and Pearce-Hayden say that Patanjali’s book is a systematic approach for how to achieve that. Beyond legend, little is known about the author or even if he was a single person or several people. Patanjali did not create yoga. He only collected and organized the existing beliefs, ideas, and practices from various philosophies and codified them into a step-by-step process for self-realization.
The Yoga Sutras are comprised of 195 compact sentences or aphorisms that are divided into four portions or books. Patanjali first explains what yoga is, what a steady mind looks like, and the various obstacles that keep us from maintaining balance. Then, Patanjali presents the tools and practices that support the goal of yoga. In the remainder of the sutras, Patanjali describes in great detail the transformation that leads to the full and complete understanding of our true self and potential. DiNardo and Pearce-Hayden say that this yoga system promises that the mind becomes steady and clear through practice. It also promises that, through these practices, we learn to minimize distractions and increase our awareness and presence in everyday life. The Yoga Sutras give greater understanding and acceptance of ourselves, others, and the world around us. This greater understanding connects us to our divine light and teaches us how to reach our potential and live with a purpose. And, with others, we are able to communicate more clearly and understand their words and actions so our relationships are more harmonious.
DiNardo and Pearce-Hayden tell us that yoga frees us from our fears, self-imposed limitations, and expectations. Classically, Patanjali talks about removing our limitations to such a degree that we are completely free, even of our own physicality, and we would gain superpowers like levitation, invisibility, and supernormal hearing. Kelly DiNardo and Amy Pearce-Hayden further say that they take a less Superman-like approach as compared with Patanjali and believe Patanjali was inviting us to go beyond what we perceive is possible and to realize that we possess greater capability, knowledge, and potential. Patanjali is telling us that when we get a hold of our mind and silence the chatter, we will hear the true voice within, understand our spirit, function free of limitations, and be able to do anything. We will know that our goals are grand — wisdom, personal insight, freedom, and a life of ease.
Living the Sutras is a fascinating and inspiring book about yoga. It is packed with the wisdom of yoga philosophy for everyone. It is written to help the modern and Western man or woman who has little time to heal his body and mind. Every student and practitioner of yoga can benefit from reading it and must read it. No matter how much you know about yoga, Living the Sutras will deepen your understanding of the philosophy of yoga. This book can be used by anybody regardless of religious beliefs.