Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.10

अभावप्रत्ययाअलम्बना तमोवृत्तिर्निद्र

abhava pratyaya alambana tamo vrttir nidra

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.10

nidra = sleep

abhava = non-existent
pratyaya = impression
alambana = based (on)
tamo (tamas) = void, inertia, darkness
vrttir = thought

I love sleeping people – they look so calm and at peace.
The translations I read described this as being about deep, dreamless sleep.
It’s interesting that it gets included as a “thought”. I find sleep fascinating – it’s almost as mysterious as infinity and thinking about the edge of the cosmos.

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.9

शब्दज्ञानानुपाती वस्तुशून्यो विकल्पः

sabda jnana anupati vastu sunyo vikalpah

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.9

vikalpah = imagination

sabda = word, sound
jnana = knowledge
anupati = arises
sunyo = without any
vastu = reality

Vikapla seems to be interpreted quite a lot as delusion, manifesting in ways such as the results of misinformation, propaganda and unconscious bias.

But I thought I’d celebrate the wonderfulness of imagination so I drew a sandbox to represent it, thinking how lucky we are to be able to imagine things and the unlimited freedom we have in what we can create there.

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.8

विपर्ययो मिथ्याज्ञानमतद्रूप प्रतिष्ठम्

viparyayo mithya jnanam a tad rupa pratistham

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.8

viparyayo = misconception
mithya = (is) mistaken
jnanam = knowledge
a tad rupa = not that form
pratistham = (of the true) form

I often mistake things for other things and it’s so weird when you actually see what you think is there until you realise what it really is. In this one he is freaked out when he thinks the rope is a snake, but then he finds out that it‘s just a rope and can bring him joy in the form of a swing 💖

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.7

प्रत्यक्षानुमानाअगमाः प्रमाणानि

pratyaksanumanagamah pramanani

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.7

pratyaksa = perception
anumana = inference
agamah = received knowledge
pramanani = are the sources of knowledge

For sensory sources of direct perception, the scenery is for sight, the bird song is for hearing, the flowers for smell, the apple for taste and the feeling of being connected to the ground for touch.

The book represents received knowledge and she is looking up thinking, to represent inference.

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.6

प्रमाण विपर्यय विकल्प निद्रा स्मृतयः

pramana viparyaya vikalpa nidra smrtayah

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.6

pramana = right knowledge
viparyaya = misconception
vikalpa = imagination
nidra = sleep
smrtayah = memory

This one is naming the 5 kind of thoughts mentioned in the previous sutra. The following sutras will go into more detail about what each one is.

If you want to get out of compelling thoughts, throughout the day (or during meditation) you can notice which one your thoughts fall into.

Today I noticed I was thinking about making a retreat centre in the country side and thinking about where it should be and imagining all these little huts with different colour umbrella shaped roofs like those paper umbrellas that you get in cocktails and actually open and shut (I really love them!).

So this one is mainly imagination but the umbrella part is memory and maybe about longing for a time in childhood when I was so happy playing with those umbrellas.

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.5

वृत्तयः पञ्चतय्यः क्लिष्टाक्लिष्टाः

vrttayah pancatayyah klistaklistah

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.5

vrttayah = whirlpools, waves (thoughts)
pancatayyah = 5 kinds
klistaklistah = suffering and not suffering

Think this one is placing thoughts into 5 states (they will be named in the following sutras) and saying that some of them bring suffering and some of them don’t.

I tried to draw thoughts as a metaphor with how the sea is at different times, sometimes completely calm, sometimes gentle waves, sometimes big waves, sometimes violent and stormy and sometimes a tsunami.

It doesn’t really matter what state the sea is in and won’t affect you too much if you are a bird flying above it or a fish deep down. In the same way if you observe your thoughts or meditate you can stop being reactive, get out of negative thinking and not get carried away by obsessive thoughts.

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.4

वृत्ति सारूप्यमितरत्र

vrtti sarupyam itaratra

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.4

vrtti = whirlpool, waves
sa = similar
rupyam = form
itaratra = otherwise

When I showed this to my son, he said “That looks like something in Zelda, when you come down from heaven and there is a monster in the middle!”. I thought what he said was apt as this sutra is often interpreted in this way – that being lost or carried away in your thoughts is equivalent to suffering.

Though I like to think that this state is just as valid as enlightenment in the previous sutra, and being like this is OK too 🙂

I tried to draw the way thoughts draw us in like a whirlpool and how they are hard to let go of, like swimming upstream.

Also, if you can move your perspective to look at them from the outside, they aren’t so compelling.

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.3

तदा द्रष्टुः स्वरूपेऽवस्थानम्

tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.3

tada = then (at the time of meditation)
drashtuh = the self
svarupe = own form
avasthanam = settling, resting

Intellectually I’m not really sure what this one means, which is why the picture is a bit undefined and abstract! Though deep down I’m sure we all know what it means because it points to truth…

I drew a reflection in a lake because this sutra seems to be describing a state of enlightenment and seeing things as they really are and I’ve often heard this state described as a metaphor of a perfectly clear reflection, with our ‘usual’ state of everyday being more like a rippled water surface. Where our thoughts and emotions are the waves on the water surface and vary with intensity and magnitude. Still, lakes are beautiful whatever the weather ❤️

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.2


yogas citta vrtti nirodhah

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.2

yogas = yoga (is)
citta = thoughts
vrtti = whirlpool, waves
nirodhah = supress, restrain

I often get the feeling I don’t want to restrain things – wanting everything to be free! But yoga in this sutra feels to me like a natural quelling of thoughts and moving towards peace and connection, like when you sit and look at the ocean.

I added in the seagull next to the person to represent companionship as sometimes I feel there is something lonely about complete oneness. The seagull could also represent the desire of the divine to be in the world, even though he/she can fly like the birds in the distance 🙂

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.1

अथ योगानुशासनम्

atha yoga anushasanam

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.1

I’m going to try and post an illustration of each yoga sutra every Monday, expressing what it means to me in that moment 🙂

Here is the first one!

atha = now
yoga = yoga
anushasanam = practice/teachings

In this picture, the mat represents discipline and showing up for practice (tapas) and the cat and green tea represent contentment and that it is also OK not to do it (santosa). The shaky sanskrit letters are about trust and just starting despite not knowing exactly what you are doing or where it is going…