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Pratipaksha Bhavanam: The Yoga Sutras

The yoga sutras written by Patanjali are widely regarded, as the authoritative text on yoga. It is the bible of yoga. It is a collection of 196 aphorisms, outlining the eight limbs of yoga. These sutras of wisdom offer guidelines for living a meaningful and purposeful life. Only 3 of them are about the physical poses know as asana and all the others are dealing with the mind.

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Pratipaksha Bhavanam

In Yoga Sutra 2.33-34, Patanjali advises, “Vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavanam”: when troublesome thoughts (vitarka) afflict (badhane) you, cultivate (bhavanam) opposite thoughts (pratipaksha), i.e., change your perspective. This is what Vasistha taught Rama to do: to shift his perspective away from suffering and limitation to the infinite bliss of the present moment.

In this sutra Patanjali is teaching us to change our thoughts so we can have a different outcome. When you find that something isn’t working well in your life you can bhavanize the opposite and change the direction or path you were on. This is particularly helpful in therapy situations and with people who have addiction struggles.

We can chose to bhavanize a different outcome for ourselves if we find ourselves in negative thought patterns. See if there is somewhere in your life that you can bhavanize to redirect your thoughts and then your life path.

Just try it and see if you can bring some change into your life and turn around a bad situation, pattern or habit by sitting in meditation and practicing the opposite.

Debi Robinson

Debi Robinson is a registered yoga teacher who specializes in teaching yoga that helps strengthen us, physically, mentally, emotionally, hormonally and spiritually as we age. She teaches a manageable yoga class designed for people of all levels, shapes, and ages, making yoga accessible for every body and everybody.

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