Introducing: Yoga Philosophy Monthly Blog Post!

Welcome to our new monthly blog series where Frances talks about various aspects of yoga philosophy. This month, Frances explains the concept of Vrittis.

In this year’s Summer School taught by Frances, the very core purpose of yoga was explored.

According to the most ancient yoga textbook, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which was written over 2,000 years ago, the aim of yoga is:

“Chitta Vritti Nirodhah”

Which means to still the turbulence or fluctuations of the mind/ consciousness.

B.K.S. Iyengar, our teacher, roots this process in the practice of asana so that total absorption in the posture creates a quietening of the Vrittis, or disturbances, within. So each day of Summer School included asana as well as pranayama breathing and a study session where we looked at the texts and discussed their relevance to our lives.

The first day focussed on Vrittis and how to still them through practice. But to understand their nature it was useful to look at the types of vrittis that arise for all of us. There are:

Five types of Vritti:

  • Correct knowledge (pramana)
  • Incorrect knowledge/ misconception (viparyaya)
  • Imagination or fantasy or indecision (vikalpa)
  • Sleep (nidra)
  • Memory (smrti)

Can Vrittis be helpful?

We had a good discussion about how each of these could be helpful or unhelpful (Klishta or aklishta)

For example, sometimes incorrect knowledge could be helpful if we realise we are incorrect and use this to improve our situation, or improve ourselves as a person.  And imagination can be helpful in coming up with ideas, but unhelpful when it leads to procrastination.

Gitte Bechsgaard, the writer/teacher with whom Frances is studying, says that when the Vrittis are stilled, it leads one to live “in the quiet abiding of the Self” (Gift of Consciousness p. 173).

Or in the words of philosopher Eckhart Tolle:

“To meet everything and everyone through stillness instead of mental noise is the greatest gift you can offer to the Universe.”

Frances Homewood

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