The Philosophy of Classical Yoga

The Philosophy of Classical Yoga

by Georg Feuerstein
Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions. 1996. Paperback, 140 pages.

I wish that I had known of Georg Feuerstein's Philosophy of Classical Yoga when I was first learning yoga and reading the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. In my passion to understand I would layout fourteen translations of the yoga sutras on the floor and compare the various interpretations, sutra by sutra. In addition, I would examine passages from the Bhagavad Gita, the various Upanishads, and other relevant texts for assistance in gleaning the "hidden" meanings behind such terms as purusha, prakriti, ishvara, citra, abhyasa, vairagya, samprajnata, and asamprajnata samadhi. I labored over the differences and similarities between Patanjali's approach and that of the Samkhya Karika. I now find, in Feuerstein's book, a companion guide that echoes my earlier exploits. But, and here is the grace, he saves us the effort by laying the groundwork through his own prodigious labors.

In this scholarly and in-depth treatise, as in his previous books, Feuerstein once again shows us his passion and insight for interpreting ancient textual meanings. In his quest for understanding, he examines the different philosophical, psychological, and practical concepts that form the foundation of yoga. As he takes us through this journey, he carves out a clear trail of references for the reader to follow. What emerges is a picture at once both clear and comprehensible of the entire sphere of classical yoga.

Feuerstein remains faithful to his view of yoga as both a philosophical and practical tool for the transformation of consciousness rather than as a mere compendium of techniques. He also reaffirms that the trail carved out by the Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, and other Indian texts are, in essence, maps for meditative introspection that are, in the end, best utilized and integrated into daily living, rather than kept on the shelf collecting dust.


June 1997