What is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient practice with its origins found in India’s history. It involves a number of techniques which include movement, posture, breath, sound, diet, study and or reflection and meditation. It is a process of inhibiting or gaining control over the mental impulses (fluctuations) we experience. All Yoga teaching and techniques are meant to bring us to this state, a place of calm, a place of stillness. Yoga today can act as a tool which can be used in a variety of ways, such as a therapy to address health issues in order to prevent, to maintain or improve our current state of health. Alternatively, it may help you to learn how to, for example, cope with excessive stress or anxiety or care for chronic disorders such as arthritis or asthma etc. 


What is Viniyoga?

The word Viniyoga means the appropriate application of Yoga techniques to particular situations. It is a process for developing a personal practice, using asana (posture), pranayama (breathing practices), meditation, sound and study. Viniyoga respects the fact that as we move through life, the methods we use in Yoga need to be modified and the purpose of our practice changed in order to reflect the changes in our personal circumstances. These practices are adapted and combined in different ways so as to meet the changing conditions you experience on all levels of your body and mind. Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya believed in this person-centred approach to Yoga. It is fundamental to his teachings and those of his son T.K.V. Desikachar. For Yoga to have its full therapeutic value and be sustained over time, it must be continually adapted to the person. In this way you are brought closer into contact with your true potential. This possibility makes Yoga a powerful tool in our quest for well- being, clarity and personal insight. This is the Viniyoga of Yoga.

Key concepts of Viniyoga

•             Careful modification of postures

•             Dynamic and static work in postures

•             Adaption and combination of postures in sequences

•             Attentive and precise application of the breath


How can Yoga help you?

You may want to learn more about the teachings that form the foundation for your Yoga practice, or developing a posture/s. You may want to learn a breathing technique to ease an over taxed nervous system, or a practice for mediation or preparing to join a local group class.

Yoga can help to:

•             Enhance strength and flexibility

•             Manage anxiety and tension

•             Complement modern medicine and alleviate many common ailments

•             Learn relaxation techniques and meditation

•             Support structural imbalances, e.g. excessive curvature of the spine

•             Ease tension headaches

•             Restore energy and health after illness and injury 

The Yoga Sutra-s of Patanjali

A peaceful state of mind

‘Each time we begin the study of the Yoga Sutra
we understand more profoundly – within our hearts - the ever powerful wisdom they impart’
Nischala Joy Devi


The sutra-s believed to be at least two thousand years old, lead us to the very heart of Yoga. The fundamental concept contained in the sutra-s is a choice of different ways, paths, to reduce suffering. This is the goal of the sutra-s – freedom from suffering. Yoga philosophy recognises the existence of the human mind and acknowledges its role in our daily functioning.  According to Patanajali’s study of the functioning of the mind, ‘it is both the source of and solution to our problems’. In other words, if the mind is agitated, distracted or conditioned by habit, then perception may be inaccurate and problems arise. If, however, the mind is disciplined and focused and free from negative habits, perception is more likely to be accurate and any actions based on this perception will reduce suffering. This is the message contained in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. Patanjali believed profoundly that each person’s mind is different and therefore different tools are needed to address these needs in order to reduce the mental agitation of different people. He recognised these differences at the physical, energetic and mental level and that is why the sutra-s has a variety of tools to choose from in order to calm the mind, making it more focused. 

 (T K V Desikachar)


Yoga Sutra Overview

Patanjali is the author of the Yoga Sutra-s but little is actually known about him. Some believe him to be the incarnation of the devine serpent Ananta which supports the universe, others believe him to have been a grammarian of his time. The Yoga Sutra-s written in ancient sanskrit are a collection of terse, simple statements, sometimes described as beads threaded one after the other. Each sutra is linked together and the whole 195 sutra-s divided into four chapters.

Chapter one

Introduces the mind, its fluctuations, problems and possibilities

Chapter two

Introduces the means to help the mind, tools to help you along the path.

Chapter three

Says that the mind as a tool can be used, it discusses the fruits of our efforts to refine the mind

Chapter four

Reinforces the idea that whatever happens is essentially within us. It is the freedom to function without being caught in our own mind stuff!



If you would like to learn more about Yoga visit Sadhana Mala, the Association of Yoga Studies (aYs) and the British Wheel of Yoga online (BWY):






Other useful links:




“Stir muddy water,
And it will stay cloudy.
Leave it alone,
And it will become clear.
Let the stream flow,
And it will find its way.
Stop chasing contentment,
And it will come to you.”
‘Yoga citta vritti nirodha’,
(Patanjali’s ‘Yoga Sutra-s’, 1.2)

Caroline Arthur Yoga