The Yoga Sutra of Patañjali

The Royal Path (continued)

A Note On The Translation

In many of the currently available English versions, translators attempt to stay close to the sutra style. The result is often unwieldy and difficult to read. In this rendition I have done my best to present the concepts in a readable fashion. Wherever possible I have elaborated the sentence structure to deepen the meaning, but without loading the text with too much interpretation, saving that for the following section. In both parts, as in the study guide, I have tried to present Patañjali’s concepts in a linear fashion that will allow the reader to master the ideas for him or herself. There are some sections that I have elaborated more completely and some that I have glossed over. The Yoga Sutra is not something that you read once and put away. It is a text that requires continual study, that one must return to year after year. The ideas are profound and must be lived to be fully understood.

As a teacher and practitioner, I come to the material not from a scholarly perspective, but from a practical and personal one. I began this project purely for myself. I felt a need to get inside the text and think through Patañjali’s meaning for myself that I could understand it better. My hope is to provide a rendition that is easy enough to read casually, but one that also carries sufficient meaning as to serve as a guide for those who wish to mine its depths. There are many excellent scholarly translations that parse and dissect Patañjali’s words, putting them in philosophical and historical context, some of which are listed in the bibliography. I encourage you to seek them out if you are of a mind to learn more. Most of us are not so academically inclined, however. It is with this in mind that I offer “Practicing Freedom” up to you.


One final thought before we proceed with the text. Wherever possible I have tried to present easily useable English words to stand in for many of Patañjali’s technical terms. The word samdhi presents a problem, however. It is often translated as “integration” or “ecstasy”. Though not exactly incorrect, they do not embody the full meaning of the word. In his book “Yoga: Immortality and Freedom”, Mircea Eliade coined the term “enstasy”, from the Greek, to refer to samadhi. Whereas in an ecstatic state the practioner elevates consiousness to a higher state by going outside the body, in an “enstatic” state, higher consciousness is achieved by going within. Though the word “enstasy” is not a common word, samdhi is not a state that bears any resemblance to mundane life. For this reason I have chosen to use it in the text.

(Excerpt from "Practicing Freedom: The Yoga Sutra of Patañjali" by Witold Fitz-Simon, $14.95, available now from or directly from the publisher.)

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