Yoga philosophy seems like a dry topic until we realize that it serves for the single most important aspect in Yoga practice, the answer to the big “why”: Why do we torture our body and nose? For what do we struggle with being still for even just a few minutes?
Over thousands of years, uninterrupted lineages of Yoga philosophers and practitioners have been learning and teaching the meaning of Yoga as a giant body of tools for the exploration into consciousness and the nature of the self. Especially the ca. 2000 years old Yoga Sutra by the sage Patanjali provides an excellent overview of the various techniques of Yoga and the ultimate goals of Yoga. Asana for example is one of the 8 central layers (ashta-anga!) of Yoga practice so it must be regarded as highly important. And yet it only fills just 1% of the whole text. Pattabhi Jois’ famous quote of “99% practice and 1% theory” is often misunderstood as 99% asana practice. Yet Yoga Sutra teaches us that asana is only 1% of all that needs to be practiced.
Yoga is not about feeling good, not about improving the body and looking great in exotic places. It is about discovering the whole world in your own heart and your love in the whole world. Your mind creates the world and you are created by the world.
Yoga is „controlling/stilling“ (nirodaḥ) the “activities/moods/distortions” (vṛtti) of the „perceivable consciousness“ (citta).
Vṛtti-s are the mental processes categorizing, filtering and even modifing our reality-perception (citta).
Cultivating non-harmful ("akliṣṭa") modes of them and perceiving unmodified reality (with Samādhi) is nirodhaḥ ("control").
Resting in a state of absolute non-attachment to these artificial mind contents when they appear is “Kaivalya”-Yoga, freedom.
There are five (pañca) modification principles (vṛtti-s) which are kliṣṭa and/or akliṣṭa
The vrrti-s categorize, filter and alter objective reality into our subjective view of reality.
Kliṣṭa-vṛtti-s create an-ego-centric world view which is the foundation of all suffering.
Chapter II (“on sādhana”) describes the “aṣṭāṅga method” for reducing kliṣṭa-vṛtti-s (in favor of non-kliṣṭa-vṛtti-s).
This paves the path to Kaivalya-Yoga (chapter IV), the absence of vṛtti-s.