Are the yoga texts relevant or is yoga just shapes on the mat?

8 limbs of yoga patanjai peace of mind the truth of yoga May 23, 2023

Since the early 2000’s a yoga industry has boomed. Yoga is everywhere. 

I am not going to do a book review, but I will share some of my thoughts after attending an event with the author Daniel Simpson to talk about his book, The truth of yoga. Along with a small group of yoga teachers here in London we had a very thought provoking afternoon. 

As yoga teachers we study some ancient texts that form the foundation to our understanding of yoga philosophy.

Our interpretation of these texts can be academic but also personal and will change according to how we feel at the time of reading. My own teacher said whatever your opinion is today, you will change your mind tomorrow. 

Nothing is permanent. 

Do we need these texts?

Are they relevant?

Well you take from it what you want, what works for you.

Remember the texts help us to form a foundation, something that will hold us steadily as we practice, or live our life.

Remember that the texts are a guide.

What is a guide, and why do we need one? 

If you are going to a county that you have never been to before you will probably get a guide book to travel with. Or go on a guided tour, hire a guide for a day for a specific reason, ie, visiting a historic place.

At sometime though you won’t need the guide, but we will be grateful for having had one. 

There comes a time when we move on and begin to experience our learning.

 For most people the postures and relaxation are what they come to a class for. 

But Yoga isn't just an exercise.

Patanajli's eight limbs of yoga create the foundation of our modern yoga practice is laid out for us today.

The texts are relevant, even if we are not interested in yoga, these concepts will show up in most of what we do.

Often seen as a means to an end.

You have something to do and you do it. 


The state of yoga is achieved through the action of yoga.

What is our motivation or the goal of yoga?

According to Patanjali it is to find peace of mind.

The yoga sutras are a text in how to do this.

Something so simple becomes mind expanding.

But lets keep it simple.

Think about living with intention.

Intention setting or goal setting is easy for us to understand.

Think of what you want to be and then how are you going to do it.

Set a foundation or frame work in which this intention or goal will be achieved.

Make these foundations personal to you but base them in the Yamas, the laws of Life, the first of the eight limbs of yoga.

Non Violence, Truthfulness, integrity, chasity, non attachment.

Are these relevant to you?

For me the first three are the basis for living but the last two might not be as relevant in todays world.

The word chastity always throws up issues around control so might just put too much confusion into this.

Let's look at the word and meaning of chasity in the context, the Sanskrit word is brahmacharya and translates to "stay in conduct with your true self". 

What about non attachment?

Non attachment is to not be attached to a diesired outcome. However the whole idea of taking action is to move us closer to a desired outcome. 

My understanding of this is to realise that once you have got to where you want to be, or get the thing that your want, is that it's not the end. It might just be the start. Think of learning to drive a car, or becoming qualified for a job. The learning is in the doing.

Patanjali then takes us to the second limb.

The Rules for Living

For the purpose of this blog I am keeping these at

Simplicity, contentment, posture, breathing, focus and becoming established in peace of mind.

This really is an edit of the eight limbs of yoga but I feel relevant to help us in life as it is today.

I invite you to the challenge. Take a piece of paper and pen and think about what you intending to do and how are you going to do it.

A personal mantra of mine is (in the words of Bananarama) its not what you do but hey way that you do it, thats what gets results.

Please do join my community space. I share a challenge each month to help you find steadiness in your through yoga and mindfulness. Members get 1 free On-Line class per each mat that they are a member.

I would love to hear your stories, wisdom and insights.

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