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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is one of the central texts of yoga. In 195 pithy statements, Patanjali defines yoga and the core components of the practice of Classical Yoga. Pre-dating the development of Hatha Yoga* by as much as a thousand years, this ancient text is among the first self-help books based more on psychology than theology. Although a spiritual document, the book doesn't deal with specific gods, chakras, kundalini or other trappings of the varied yogic traditions. And it doesn't show us how to do any postures.

Rather, it is a guide to how people, through individual effort, can become fully human. It is about experiencing the True Self, the part of you that exists independently of mind and body, and learning to see things as they are without the distortion filters of the mind getting in the way.


Studying the Yoga Sutras is an important step in developing a deeper understanding of yoga and a deeper yoga practice. The Sutras are part of an ancient oral tradition, which means you don't learn by reading and reasoning alone. You have to listen and chant. This tutorial is designed to help you do just that.

The tutorial is on Chapter Two of the Yoga Sutras in which Patanjali describes Kriya Yoga, an action plan for attaining the yogic state of samadhi. On a practical level, the chapter focuses on the causes of personal suffering and how to deal with them. Patanjali also outlines the Eight Limbs of yoga, emphasizing the first five: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama and pratyahara (the other three are dealt with in a later chapter).

Translated and chanted by Paul JJ Alix, a Sanskrit scholar and founder of YOGA for ALL, the tutorial is organized into a number of lessons, each one focusing on several individual sutras. A new lesson will be posted about once a week. Each lesson contains written text, translation, interpretation and three sound files: a slow version in which each word or small word group is pronounced slowly and clearly; a moderate version in which the words begin to flow together; and finally a fast version that shows how the sutra sounds at full "chant" speed.

Studying the Yoga Sutras is important to understanding yoga and creating a deeper practice. The Yoga Sutras are part of an ancient oral tradition, which means you don't learn it by reading and reasoning alone. You have to chant. The sound files included here will help in that regard.

In addition to studying and listening to the sutras on your own, you will be able to ask specific questions via email. You will receive an individual response, and all questions and answers will be posted on the site (names will be removed from questions)..

*Scholars believe Hatha Yoga was developed about 1,100 years ago by Matsyendra and his disciple Goraksha.

About Paul JJ Alix

Based in New York City, Paul has been studying yoga for more than 27 years and teaching for 15. Certified in the Viniyoga tradition of Sri T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar by Gary Kraftsow, he has served as a yoga consultant to the New York Public Library, Beth Israel Hospital the Madras Sanskrit College in Chennai, India, and numerous other organizations. He also holds certifications in Vedic studies and authentic Vedic chanting from the Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai, India. He has studied Sanskrit with Sri Brahmananda Sarasvati and has also studied with and assisted Vyass Houston, the Director of the American Sanskrit Institute. He teaches yoga in the New York area and offers a course in the Yoga Sutras at Starseed in Montclair, NJ, as part of its teacher training program. He also offers workshops and classes on yoga and the Yoga Sutras at locations across the country.

For more about Paul, visit his website at

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Lesson I: Sutras 1-4

Lesson 2:
Sutras 1-4

Hear all of Chapter II

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