Greg Anton

Note: even though this summary contains much of the language used by BKS Iyengar in his commentaries 

on these sutras in his book, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, it was written without reference to the 

book.  My own way of beginning to delve deeper into complex and complicated philosophical and 

metaphysical principles is to choose a few, key concepts, to memorize them and to contemplate their 



Transformations of the consciousness begins with a study of the rising impressions and the impulse to 

restrain them.  This study is called Nirodha Parinamah.  The study leads to stillness when the space 

between the rising impressions and the impulse to restrain them, and the restraining impulse and the 

resurgence of impressions gets longer.  This is Samadhi Parinamah. 


The stillness leads to silence when the consciousness is absorbed in the Self.  This is Ekagrata Parinamah

that (the soul) which has no other.  The mind is stilled, the breath controlled. 


For me, BKS Iyengar’s phrase, “the rising impressions and the impulse to restrain them, and the restraining 

impulse and the resurgence of impressions” is poetic and enables one to begin to grasp the process of the 

transformation of the consciousness.  Also, one must PAY ATTENTION!!!  To externalities and to 

internalities for the consciousness is not transformed merely by sensory deprivation but by a deliberate, 

willful, conscious (if you will) attempt to quiet the mind.  Finally, as the Trappist monks say, “Speak to 

enhance the silence.”  I would embellish that by saying, “Speak, act, and think to enhance the silence.” 

David Goldblatt

At the beginning of the yoga sutras we learn that yoga is the cessation of the movements of consciousness. Reaching that state when we are free from distractions prepares us to penetrate into the innermost layer of our being and experience our own soul, the universal soul that joins together all life and the freedom that comes with this. With the yoga sutras III 9–III 12, we begin to learn about the process and gain the tools that finally allow us to achieve true quietness of the mind in order to receive the gift of Samadhi. 

Ordinarily the mind functions by relationship with the external world through our sense organs and our emotions and desires; even our internal thoughts are aspects of the external world to which we have given life in our minds.  This way of being in relationship with the world is one of externalization (vyutthãna).

All the stages of yoga lead us to continue the road toward freedom.  The Yamas and Niyamas not only help us control our emotions and desires, but also lead us toward a more reflective and quiet life style and develop a spiritual way to be in the world. Asana and Pranayama also prepare us to be free of distractions as we get more in tune with the inner workings of our bodies and breathing.  Pratyahara, dharana and dhyana gradually help us to achieve readiness for quietness and focus without distraction.

The sutras III 9 – III 12 teach us how to stay focused without distraction by describing the steps from quiet to absorption. These sutras help us to see how the mind works and to learn the technique toward samadhi. As we begin this deepening process and seek to experience and expand the quiet moments between rising and falling thoughts, old samskaras come up which show that we have not let go of the external world.  As long as our minds are projected outward, the quiet mind cannot happen.  However, as we start to focus on the quiet place (nirodha) between our thoughts we develop new samskaras of this nirodha transformation, making the deepening process easier the more time we devote to its practice.  Nirodha counteracts externalization and practice plants a seed or samskara of nirodha.

Quieting the mind is only the beginning of penetrating into the deepest recesses of the mind where the discovery of the soul and freedom reside.  In the beginning the nirodha state is only blankness but it will eventually lead to the next plane of pure sattvic awareness.  We are shown this process in sutra III 12 with the development of one pointed awareness (ekagrata parinama). The fact that ekagrata parinama differs from merely thinking about an object is seen in the purity of the phenomena.  The pure focus on the object without the influence of our old samskaras allows us to be at one with the object of attention.  Instead of thinking about something, the whole process of seeker, object, and seer becomes one state of being.  Focusing the mind through one pointedness rather than the influence of the samskaras leads to absorption and true acceptance of what is.  True acceptance leads to peace.  Even if we are fortunate through our practice to receive the gift of Samadhi, continued effort is necessary to maintain the quiet mind and become prepared to receive deeper levels of Samadhi and experience blissful awareness of our own soul.

Avi Magidoff

99% practice, 1% theory

Or I walk with my feet not with my head, if I walk with my head I loose my way

Or Penetrating Yoga Sutra 3.9-12


They often says that to describe a mango to someone who has never tasted one is ultimately useless.  We can use words like sweet, tart, delicious, etc., but what we really need to do is to give our friend a mango if we want them to know what it is: they need to taste it themselves.

Naturally, wine connoisseurs enjoy describing wine with tremendous subtleties.  But for those of us who do not drink, it all sounds a bit intellectual. 

How does a Plum Village Ashtangi see these Sutras?  As one who has never drank alcohol (nor has tasted a cheese that merited a review), my main concern is how does this affect my practice, how does it change the way I walk, the way I sit, the way I eat, the way I relate to my suffering, my joy, my emotional states, to my friends, etc.

For me, it is a preference to keep it at the level I can implement, in the language of my life, of my experience.  If there are deeper meanings (and there is a deeper meaning to everything), those will reveal themselves when the time is ripe.  My experience is that if I engage in trying to unravel a deeper mystery without seeing how it relates to my own life in the here and now, chances are it will remain a mystery.

What impresses me about these Sutras most is the question as to which Parinama comes first in practice (so that is when my interest is getting aroused – I can see they are trying to see how their own practice fits with the words).  The Sivananda people (Satyananda, though not Venkateshananda, and Taimni [a theosophist officially?]) think that Nirodha is the result of working through the other two, while others take the order as is (with Iyengar defending the order).

Looking at Nirodha to Samadhi to Ekagrata Parinamas, is the process of transformation by learning the potential of that moment between thoughts/impressions, making dwelling in there a habit, focusing the mind with that energy (of Nirodha Parinama) until I arrive at non-discrimination.

It is my process of “falling in love” with the quieting of the mind: Nirodha Parinama here would be the dwelling in the moment between, the calm.  And thus the factor of joy is wakened in me, which allows me to have more energy to concentrate, focus, deepen my process, Transformation through Concentration, and now I can “investigate Dharmas.”  When I investigate the rising and falling of Dharmas, I see that all is interdependent/interconnected, the concepts of self/other etc. dissolve, and cessation (of concepts) can take place: I now have only one kind of mind – the mind of space, love, compassion.  This is where  Ekagrata would mean oneness: when I loose my concepts I no longer judge that this is thought A and this is thought B (and I like or dislike them in comparison).  I now dwell in equanimity towards all thoughts, all moments.

According to that last mind set, I also see that no transformation can be independent, and so no sequence is superior.  One can start and taste anywhere and the others will develop: that is my experience – sometimes we enter one way first, sometimes another, but all three happen just by entering.

The Sivananda interpretation is the process of focusing the mind (Samadhi), so that one movement (ekagrata) starts to take root, and then the emptiness (which discards the impressions, the thoughts) can take root (Nirodha).

My practice is rooted in the Anapanasatti Sutra, so I naturally gravitate towards transformation of the mind utilising the “factors of awakening”: mindfulness, joy, energy, investigating Dharmas, ease, concentration, and letting go.

Thay would ask me “how does this affect your practice?”

My practice is to arrive, to continue to arrive, to be home, at each moment.  When anger or fear, or boredom, or desire, or distraction are in me, how can I transform the mind towards space, love and compassion?  It is when I can stop the “drowning” of the mind in a feeling, so I can dwell in the space that is not occupied by any impression of the mind, that gives me the first grasp at transformation, and then from within that space I can go through further transforming the mind to the mind of love.  It is the reminder of the joy of dwelling in that space that is not occupied by impression that is the great motivator for me, that is the basic fuel that sustains my practice, that makes me reach out towards transformation and saves me from “indulgence.”  (and so perhaps I do not see the Sivananda way so well).

But this is not the mango.  The mango is my walking, the mango is my breathing, my awareness, my love of the practice, my aspirations for liberation.  The mango is the turning of it all into practice.


Janice Vien

Summary of Sutras III-9- III-12

            In Sutras III 9- III 12, Patanjali sets the groundwork for how the siddhis develop with an intense meditation practice. Earlier in Pada III Patanjali defines samyama as the blending of dharana, dhyana and samadhi. With the continued practice of samyama the sadhaka transforms his or her mind. Three transformations are described.

            The first one is nirodha parinamah in which the sadhaka develops the habit of restraint of the fluctuations of the mind. Going to the space between two thoughts becomes as much as a habit as getting lost in one’s thoughts. This habit of restraint results in a calm feeling.

            Next Patanjali describes samadhi parinamah. BKS Iyengar states that continued nirodha parinamah results in samadhi parinamah. One must remember that the citta itself is part of nature and is always moving. So there is an undercurrent of arising thoughts or movements of the consciousness. Hariharananda writes and I am paraphrasing here that in this state of consciousness the mind begins to influence itself by continued growth of the habit to attend to what is present. In this state writes Hariharananda the mind develops insight.

            When the citta continues to be restrained so that the same one-pointed focus remains from one moment to the next this is described as ekagrata parinamah. Rohit Mehta writes that a Sadhaka becomes aware of the silence amidst the noise of the “new mind”. He describes this new mind as not just a change of degree of the mind but a change in kind.

            It is through these intense changes of the mind that one can develop the siddhis. Although one must note this is certainly not the goal of the practice and can become an obstacle even for the wise. By directing this intense focus on different objects/ideas the sadhaka transcends time, form and condition as we know it and gains knowledge and abilities that are way beyond our understanding.

Reflections & Inspiration

Students in Patricia's Wednesday afternoon advanced class have been studying and discussing the third chapter of the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. Read some of their thoughts about Sutras III.9-III.12.