July 26th Yoga Sutra Study – The Pains Yet to Come


For our next Yoga Sutra study meeting on July 26th we will be reading in Chapter 2, sutras 15, 16, and 17.

From the Light on The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Translation by BKS Iyengar:

  • Sutra II.15The wise know that owing to the fluctuations, the qualities of nature, and subliminal impressions, even pleasant experiences are tinged with sorrow, and keep aloof from them.
  • Sutra II.16The pains which are yet to come can be and are to be avoided.
  • Sutra II.17 – The cause of pain is the association or identification of the seer with the seen and the remedy lies in their dissociation.

We have discussed the Obstacles (kelshas) that we face in life and practice, and also tried to identify the patterns those obstacles take within the cycle of karma‘s cause and effect. When we look at the idea of “pain” in regards to The Yoga Sutras, better translations for me refer to this pain as “suffering”.

Physical pain happens. We have a body and we walk through life experiencing physical pain now and then for various reasons. Yoga is not to always or inevitably take away all of our experience of physical pain. More importantly, we have to learn that our reaction to and how we deal with pain is what turns it into mental and emotional suffering or not. One of BKS Iyengar’s great quotes is (paraphrased here) “yoga can help us cure what can be cured and endure what cannot be cured”.

In yoga we have to look beyond the physical and when we approach the discussion on “pain” that is no different. And, not surprisingly, this suffering has a lot to do with what has happened at the level of our obstacles and within our approach to lessening our cause and effect cycle in the world.

Contemplations for Discussion on July 26th:

  1. What was your first reason for coming to yoga? Physical or mental pain or suffering? Have you found that your practice of yoga has had an effect on that first approach? Has it changed over time?
  2. What is typically your first reaction to “pain”?
  3. Can you identify times in your life where pleasurable experiences have turned painful and why? Can you see instances where pain might be pleasurable or helpful and why?
  4. Can you pinpoint the line between physical pain and mental suffering, and even more so can you or have you ever been able to be observant of physical or mental suffering from a place of dissociation?
  5. Has any experience of pain for you become a source of empathy or compassion for others?


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Jennie Williford CIYT

Jennie Williford (CIYT Level 3) is a transplant to LaCrosse via Montana, Illinois, and originally Texas. Throughout her life moves and 5 trips to India, Jennie has acquired a well-rounded and multi-faceted approach to Iyengar Yoga since her start in 1998. Jennie loves the experimental and explorative nature of yoga in accessing deeper knowledge of the Self on every level. The practice of yoga can be intense and introspective, however as practitioners we can be light-hearted and open-minded in our discipline. Jennie is intrigued by the philosophy of yoga and hopes to share this depth of subject while teaching the physical and mental benefits that come from the practice of posture.