1.12 – Training and detachment still the fluctuations in consciousness.

अभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां तन्निरोधः ॥१२॥

abhyasa vairagyabhyam tat nirodhah

  • abhyasa – training; practice; discipline; habit; drill
  • vairagyabhyam – detachment; dispassion; nonattachment
  • tat – that
  • nirodhah – stilling; ceasing; quieting

1.13 – Training is the effort made to stabilize that tranquil state.

तत्र स्थितौ यत्नोऽभ्यासः ॥१३॥

tatra sthitau yatnah abhyasa

  • tatra – there; therein; in that
  • sthitau – stabilizing; maintaining
  • yatnah – effort; endeavor; activity of will; zeal
  • abhyasa – training; practice; discipline; habit; drill

1.14 – Training becomes firmly rooted when it is practiced over a long period of time, without disruption, and with reverent devotion.

स तु दीर्घकालनैरन्तर्यसत्कारादरासेवितो दृढभूमिः ॥१४॥

sah tu dirgha kala nairantaira satkara asevitah dridha bhumih

  • sah – that (referring to abhyasa/training)
  • tu – and
  • dirgha – long
  • kala – time
  • nairantaira – without disruption; uninterrupted; continuous
  • satkara – reverence; with devotion; with care
  • asevitah – practiced assiduously; frequented
  • dridha-bhumih – firmly grounded; firmly rooted; well established

1.15 – One who has mastered conscious detachment does not thirst after the objects of the senses, whether previously experienced or described by others.

दृष्टानुश्रविकविषयवितृष्णस्य वशीकारसंज्णावैराग्यम् ॥१५॥

drista anushravika vishaya vitrishnasya vashikara sanjna vairagyam

  • drista – the seen; experienced; perceived; visible
  • anushravika – heard; described; derived from scriptural tradition
  • vishaya – object of sensory experience; content; subject matter; impressions
  • vitrishnasya – not thirsting for; satiated; free from desire
  • vashikara – mastery; control
  • sanjna – consciousness; perception; right conception
  • vairagyam – detachment; dispassion; nonattachment

1.16 – The highest detachment arises from the recognition of one’s true Self. In that state, one does not even cling to the fundamental forces of nature.

तत्परं पुरुषख्यातेः गुणवैतृष्ण्यम् ॥१६॥

tat param purusha khyateh guna vaitrshnyam

  • tat – that
  • param – highest; beyond; supreme; most excellent
  • purusha – soul; spirit; Pure Awareness; the true Self
  • khyateh – recognition; point of view; conception
  • guna – fundamental forces of nature; primal qualities
  • vaitrshnyam – freedom from desire; indifference to

Commentary on Sutras 1.12—1.16:

In this set of sutras, we are given the two methods for stilling the movements in consciousness and then abiding in that tranquil state. Later chapters contain other ways, but each falls under one of these two categories.

The first is abhyasa, meaning “training” or “practice.” It includes the various techniques that make up our meditation practice and all the lifestyle choices that support it.

Not long after we embark on the yogic journey, we’re confronted by “inner demons,” i.e., our resistance to the inner work. For some of us, this may be the resistance to meditation. We may feel varying levels of discomfort when we become still and quiet. Aches and pains from old injuries may present themselves. Or suppressed emotions may surface.

For others, it may be resistance to lifestyle choices that support the training. Those choices may include the following:

  • dietary changes which support radiant health, clarity of mind, and a lightness of body
  • getting sufficient sleep
  • engaging in proper exercise
  • refraining from activities that drain our vital forces (examples: staying out late, indulging in alcohol and drugs, overworking, over-socializing, hypersexuality, etc.)
  • cutting down on screen-time
  • spending more time in nature
  • letting go of unhealthy relationships

Resistance can create many obstacles on the yogic path. Training is the effort we exert to overcome whatever form resistance may take. When that training gains depth and we perform it with devotion over months, years, and decades, we become stable and tranquil. In other words, samadhi (unity-consciousness) is no longer a peak experienced in meditation, it becomes our default state.

But how do we progress to deeper levels of intensive training without burning out?

Patanjali’s solution is to pair training with detachment. He gives us both of these methods together so our yoga practice may remain balanced and sustainable.

As stated earlier, the most essential quality a yogi can possess—if they’re to be successful in their practice—is a longing for liberation. Without desire, nothing would happen. There would be no fuel for the training.

But the next most important trait for a yogi to have is detachment. There must be both a burning desire for enlightenment and a willingness to detach ourselves from the fruits of the practice.

Detachment is an inadequate substitute for the Sanskrit term vairagya. So are other translations, such as dispassion, non-attachment, and desirelessness. All give the idea of a dry, emotionless state of mind or paint a picture of someone wishing to escape the world.

Instead, the type of detachment referred to here involves bringing our fullest attention to the energy of the moment. Rather than regressing to insentient zombies, we are called to feel everything with a heightened intensity, then to release those feelings and embrace the new energy of the moment.

This way of detached living brings a vibrancy, a feeling of aliveness we could not otherwise experience. And that can only happen when we surrender our defensive armor and allow the rawness of life to flow through.

The more consistent we are in training and detachment, the more clear and still our consciousness becomes. The more clear and still our consciousness becomes, the more we recognize our ever-present Self. And the more we abide in Self-awareness, the less effort our training requires, and the easier it becomes to remain detached, even while engaged in action.

At that stage, intentional effort gives way to spontaneous, right action