Specifically, the very first chapter, first sutra: I.I atha yoganusasanam, “With prayers for divine blessings, now begins an exposition of the sacred art of yoga”. Iyengar expands on this to suggest that Patanjali is inviting the reader to begin an exploration of that hidden part of man that is beyond the senses.
Beautifully said. Indeed, as a new student, I’ve noticed my own awareness of my body, my emotions and my thought processes has increased. I’m not sure if this is what Patanjali had in mind, but I’m finding that aspects of my physical and mental life that were hidden are now more apparent to me. It feels good.
How does this work, and what might types of brain mechanisms are involved in gaining self awareness? What is the self anyway? What is self-awareness? How far into one’s unconscious mental processes can one’s self-awareness reach? Why does it feel good to have more self-awareness? Lot’s to ponder in follow-ups to come.
Even though the sutras were written more than 2,000 years ago, a neural- and brain-based understanding of consciousness remains a topic of debate and intense research. I’ll do my best to explore some of this research and ways in which it might reflect back to the poetic and admittedly broad notions of consciousness in the yoga sutras.