As part of my yoga teacher training, I am required to read the Yoga Sutras. The sūtras are a set of wise and pithy aphorisms as presented by Patanjali who is, according to translator B.K.S. Iyengar, “an evolved soul incarnated of his own will to help humanity.” In other words Mr. P is the original downward dog master. He does his downward dogs while levitating over hot coals and inhabiting the body of a twice-reborn cobra so we might want to pay attention.
Reading the Iyengar translation is slow going. Iyengar can take a typical sūtra of four Sanskrit words and extract four intricate pages of elucidation on their meaning.
The first sūtra goes like this: atha yoganusasanam.That’s it. Apparently Patanjali is the forefather of twitter. He practically invented tweets. Iyengar’s translation of those two Sanskrit words, in part, goes like this: “the disciplines of integration are here expounded through experience, and are given to humanity for the exploration and recognition of that hidden part of man which is beyond the senses.” Gah. Each time I read that sentence, my head gets itchy. In an attempt to figure out what Iyengar is talking about, I decided to try to paraphrase the translations in a way my kid (and me, okay I admit it, me too) can get it.
Forgive my impertinence (call this my way of trying to keep up with my homework), but here is the results of my translation of the first 30 sūtras in tweetable length (you can check back later for the next batch, as soon as I wade through the text and figure out the meaning of life).
Yoga Sūtras of Patanjali: a Modern Tweetable Translation.
I.1 The time has come so listen up, kids: here’s all the rules of yoga. Pay attention because I’m only going to say them once, straight up.
I.2. Yoga is about sitting down and shutting up. First, sit down. Tell your brain to shut it, now. Shut Up. Shut up. Shut up. That’s it. Keep doing that.
I.3 When you shut up, you are cooler than cool.
I.4 The rest of the time, you are just a damn fool.
I.5 There are five ways to be conscious. If you think you know the score, think again.
I.6 Your mind can be stupid, distracted, agitated, focused (one-pointed) or controlled. Probably the first one.
I.7 Correct knowledge is direct (you know what you know), inferred (you guessed it) or transmitted by your guru (better hope he knows what the hell he’s talking about).
I.8 You get crap knowledge from crap inputs.
I.9 Your untethered imagination will produce nothing but crap.
I.10 Sleep: you’re probably not doing it right.
I.11 Your memory is a collection of shite. Don’t rely on it.
I.12 Don’t get attached to anything. For example, be indifferent to chocolate. (I know, eh?)
I.13. It takes a lot of practice to shut the mind up. Don’t give up. But don’t sit too long, you will begin to stink. Do planks. Have a bath.
I.14 Practice every day. If you think you are getting really good at yoga, go back to start, do not pass go.
I.15 No sex, chocolate and fluffy pillows for you. Sorry, baby. The web of pleasure is a sticky, bad place. If it feels good, renunciate it.
I.16 You gave up chocolate five years ago. If you still want chocolate, you are doing it wrong.
I.17 You are an arrow. Or a bow. Or the air. Or the target. Being the target sucks.
I.18 You can get stuck partway up the ladder to spirituality.
I.19 If you go flying around outside your body, you may not make it to the top of the ladder to spirituality. Stay on the ladder. Become one with the ladder.
I.20 Throw everything you’ve got at your practice. (It won’t stick and it won’t be enough.)
I.21 You need energy to reach the goal. A giant bucket of coffee may help.
I.22 There are many levels of slackers, keeners and in-betweeners on the path. You are all of the above.
I.23 Surrender all to the Universal Soul. Meditate. Bonus: you don’t ever have to do the dishes or laundry when you spend all your time on your mat.
I.25 God (the Most Awesome Universal Soul) ROCKS!
I.26 Are you listening? God really kills it! He’s the man. [He. Him. His. So patriarchal. Don’t get hung up. All religions do it so it MUST be okay.]
I.27 Om is the word. It even has it’s own dictionary.
I.28 Om: one word, all the time.
I.29 Bird flu, leaving the dishes in the sink until morning, thinking you are too fat in those pants, texting while driving, watching American Idol, pigging out on brownies, smoking your neighbour’s homegrown, delusions that you are the most awesome universal soul, not working out, playing Drawsome: all this stuff will block your path. [I know. Not quite tweet length. Sue me]
I.30 Stay focused. ADHD sufferers need not apply.