A Brief Versical History of Yoga

This poem (and indeed the name for the blog category) takes its inspiration from a renowned yoga text called The Yoga Sutras: Sutra is a Sanskrit word which also means stitch. The Yoga Sutras are a sort of bible for yoga teachers and practitioners and it is believed that they were written by an Indian sage called Patanjali over 4000 years ago. The book itself has four chapters with each chapter compiled of sutras or stanzas if you prefer. The sutras are sewn together in a way so as to guide the yogi from the start of their practice towards their ultimate potential, the constant thread being to reach a state that is free from suffering also known as Nirvana. Therefore, each sutra or stitch is often an observation or philosophical contemplation of the mental fluctuations and states that hinder us. So, for example, the very first two sutras refer to the importance of the essence of observation in our practice and how, from the first moment we decide that we are going to pay attention to our practice, we have actually begun the practice of yoga. Please note that you don’t have to have rolled out a yoga mat to be practicing yoga at this point! It is referring to the moment when we decide to switch on our awareness about something, anything that becomes the starting point for that awareness. In fact, the word YOGA itself can be used in this context, as an acronym: You Observe to Gain Awareness. The sutras that are of particular interest to me are those that identify all the obstacles that humans face on the path to their goals. But no doubt, I’ll come back to that topic in future videos.

A Stitch in Rhyme, therefore, takes its inspiration from the concept of Patanjali’s personal philosophical contemplations that are presented in the Yoga Sutras, but with a little twist. These ‘poetry sutras’ are essentially my own observations and comments on whatever theme or topic I feel motivated to write about. I reason that if it’s relevant to me than it’s potentially relevant to someone else, and more than that, there will be humour, and plenty of it! Because I believe that even though our health can be a serious issue, I think it’s important not to take myself too seriously.

A Brief, ‘Versical’ History of How (I Believe) Yoga Came To Be.

A long, long time ago it’s said
During hedonistic days
When people drunk on debauchery
Needed to mend their ways.

There were a collective of wise men
Who were summoned by the king
He asked them all to write a self-help
Guide for the human being.

They studied hard and ruminated
Each of them a renowned sage
The masters of distinct subjects
The scientists of their age.

And one of them had written much
Patanjali was his name
His works in Sanskrit grammar
Were his previous claim to fame.

He was charged with the unenviable task
Of assessing humankind
Of determining the obstacles we face
And how we can fall behind.

He came to write the Yoga Sutras
Which detail in each stitch
The suffering and the challenges
That can cause a mental glitch.

And how we could work to overcome
Through discipline and practice
That if we let go and ride the waves
We’ll float upon the surface.

His book became a reference point
For every yoga teacher
Each stitch within this sacred text
A contemplative feature.

And I wonder how it came to be
That downward dog was born
If not from the mind of Patanjali
From whose, did this posture spawn?

At the same time there was another
Whose SUTRAS drew renown
And his name was Vatsyayana
And his KARMA was postures face down!

So, it came to be that in a while
These two men were having a chat
And Patanjali said, “Vat, I like your style,”
And they both had a thought about that.

The two men agreed that posture work
Would be beneficial to all
And that’s how the origin of the ‘twerk’
Found its way to your village hall!

So, whether you cherish your yoga mat
Or are one of many sceptics
The Yoga Sutras teach us all
That life is not a quick fix!

To watch me read this video on my You Tube Channel click here.