Approximately 2500 years ago, an Indian sage named Patañjali composed The Yoga Sūtra. The word Sūtra can be translated as 'thread' and the Yoga Sūtra comprises a series of 196 aphorisms: short, compacted verses rich in meaning.
Patañjali identifies yoga as the 'stilling of the waves in the mind
,' and the subsequent experience of abiding in one's 'essential nature
.' Patañjali's approach has much in common with the dualism of 'sāṃkhya
' philosophy in which reality is described as 'puruṣa
' - source consciousness, having an experience of 'prakṛti
' - matter. The puruṣa has forgotten itself and has identified with prakṛti. Our busy minds, bodies, and lives in the material world are manifestations of prakṛti, and as such, subject to range of external influences . The practice of yoga is a process by which puruṣa - source consciousness disentangles itself from the web of prakṛti and re-identifies and abides in essence.
When puruṣa consistently rests in itself this state is known as 'samādhi
'. Patañjali offers two methods by which to calm the mind and to create the right conditions for an experience of samādhi to arise: 'kriyā-yoga
' - the yoga of action; and 'aṣṭâñga yoga
', - the yoga of eight limbs.
In the past one hundred years, Patañjali's aṣṭâñga yoga has enjoyed a popular revival and is considered by many to be the summum bonum of yogic philosophy. Although we live in a highly complex, technological society, the human condition remains much the same as it was in the time of Patañjali and his writing has become an invaluable source of wisdom, insight and guidance to a new generation of yoga practitioners all over the world.