Patanjali- ancient wisdom for a modern world pt 1

Yoga is the path and also the destination

A modern approach to Patanjali’s Sutras by Andrea Wahl and Oliver Metz



You hardly find any vaster and more profound source for Yoga philosophy than the one written by Patanjali.

Being a wise man from the East, we barely have any other personal information about him.

He collected scriptures about 1700 years ago or more, and by doing so identified eight essential, interrelated aspects of Yoga.

These aspects describe and define the path to enlightenment, starting with the ethical foundation of our external behavior (Yamas) and our internal conduct (Niyamas). 

According to Patanjali this is the point where the whole thing gets started: It’s not so much about performing complicated postures on the yoga mat, it’s rather fundamental of how we present ourselves in everyday life and how we deal with ourselves, how we treat ourselves.

Now let’s have a look into the various aspects of these Yamas and Niyamas, give them a modern stance, an up-to-date costume, and check how Kundalini Yoga relates to them.

These aspects can rather be seen as guidelines, like a map that directs us to wherever we want to go, than a wagging finger or a sermon on morality. It’s an invitation to expand our consciousness and check where on the road to elevation we are actually located.


  1. Yamas: Moral foundation and mindset in relation to the external in order to find inner harmony and tranquility


1.1. Ahimsa (non-violence)

Ahimsa literally means ‘not hurting”, neither in thoughts, nor in words or in deeds, not ourselves, and also not others, or Mother Earth.

But Ahimsa is much more than simply ‘not being violent’, it’s about the entire way of our thinking, speaking, both in the micro-cosmos of our Self as well as in the macro-cosmos of the outer world, as much in our everyday life environments and with people, as in the maxi-cosmos, meaning Mother earth itself.

It all begins with the way we speak to ourselves when no one else is listening, how we judge and condemn ourselves, downgrading more than promoting ourselves at times, Ahimsa seems to be quite important at this point already. 

But besides that it’s also the way we treat others, every living being including Mother Earth, the way we wage wars, discriminate others because of a different opinion, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, education or race, and the way we destroy nature – all of this is against what Ahimsa means all together. 

So where can we start the change and apply more Ahimsa to our daily lives?

Consider meat and dairy production and the cruelty, in which the animals are raised and held, consider all the plastic we use once and then throw away, consider all the pollution we add on by driving cars and air traffic, consider sustainability and anything that helps our planet staying healthy, vibrant and bright. What is your contribution to either sides? Is there anything that you can change or improve?

In the age of Aquarius, we are becoming more and more aware of our 

interconnection with others, the experience that the suffering of somebody else is also our own suffering. We all are going through our individual life stories and issues; however, we are tied up in this together.

It’s not always easy to be friendly and kind, but Ahimsa is an invitation to remind ourselves constantly to enhance these qualities rather than keeping up destructive behavior.

On the other hand, Ahimsa does not mean that we have to refrain from self-defense or is asking to starve ourselves – it’s always about the appropriate degree of actions.

Kundalini Yoga provides us with a vast amount of practices to create a loving relationship with one’s Self, and to elevate the consciousness in order to experience Oneness.