Last updated on September 26th, 2023.
Yoga is a relaxing and mindful practice filled with various opportunities for growth. However, if you are confused by some of the terminology that dates back to yoga’s ancient origins, you may be wondering if there is a simplified meaning for certain yoga terms, such as Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha.
A simplified meaning of Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha is that “yoga stills or controls the work of the mind.” The original phrase comes from Sanskrit and refers to the calming techniques of Patanjali yoga that help practitioners achieve a state of meditation.
Due to its remarkable cultural and historical background, yoga is filled with interesting phrases that contain a deeper meaning. Keep reading to learn more about the history behand Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha.
Who First Said “Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha?”
The first person who said “Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha” was an ancient Indian sage known as Patanjali. Few people know any information about this remarkable figure’s life, although it is estimated that he lived between the 4th and 5th century CE.
Patanjali is extremely influential to yogic practices because of his work on the Yogic texts, known as the Yoga Sutras. These sutras contain philosophical information about the practice of yoga, such as the mantra Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha.
Many people consider Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha to be Patanjali’s definition of yoga. Through this definition, yoga can be considered as a practice that uses the movements of the body to still the mind and attain a meditative state.
What Does “Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha” Mean?
In the modern era, not nearly as many people are fluent in Sanskrit as they were during the age of Patanjali. However, there is still great meaning to be derived from understanding the Sanskrit words for yogic phrases and mantras.
“Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha,” when taken together as a whole, can be translated to mean that yoga is a power that controls the mind and helps it achieve stillness. The meaning of this translation can be seen by breaking down each individual Sanskrit term:
- Yoga: Though we think of yoga as a practice now, the word “yoga” in Sanskrit is a verb literally meaning to join or form a union.
- Chitta: This word most directly means consciousness or the conscious state of one’s mind.
- Vritti: This Sanskrit word means variations or fluctuations.
- Nirodha: Nirodha means to quiet or calm.
When put all together, it is apparent how the meaning is achieved.
What are the 5 Types of Chitta Vritti?
In a similar line of thought, Patanjali’s famous phrase gave rise to the idea of “chitta vritti,” or types of thought. The following sections will describe what these five types of thought are and give some history on the terminology behind these concepts.
Type 1: Pramana
Pramana is what is known as correct or true knowledge. In today’s era, pramana might seem very similar to scientific knowledge, as it emphasizes the acquisition of knowledge that is proven and tested.
In particular, Patanjali describes the manners of proving and testing pramana as the following:
- What is inferred
- Testimony from an authoritative source
- What is directly perceived
Pramana is an extremely valued knowledge, and is in fact the only type of knowledge that should be consistently used by yogis. Its use gives rise to wisdom.
Type 2: Viparyaya
In direct contras to Pramana, Viparyaya is unreliable or untested information. This is information that comes from non-credible sources and disrupts the process of growing knowledge.
Viparyaya can lead to ignorance and confusion, and can be caused by personal insecurities such as greed or fear. Part of a strong yogic practice is eliminating and avoiding Viparyaya knowledge and instead choosing to rely on and honor Pramana.
Type 3: Vikalpa
Vikalpa knowledge can be most closely correlated with imagination or the fantastical mind. Because it is neither reliable or unreliable, it falls outside of the boundaries of being defined by Pramana or Viparyaya.
This type of knowledge should be honored by yogis, but in moderation as an over imaginative state can lead to a disconnect with the real world and the present moment.
Type 4: Nidra
Nidra is the type of thought found in sleep or in the state of consciousness that occupies the space between being awake and asleep.
Type 5: Smrti
This final type of thought is most commonly described as memory. Similar to imagination, memory has a hold on the conscious and unconscious minds that cannot be described solely as reliable or unreliable.
A difficulty that many yogis must face and attempt to master is finding harmony between these five different types of thought. Tantric yoga, however, is not considered part of Chita Critti Nirodha.
Where Can I Learn More about Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha?
If you are interested in learning more about this fascinating practice, consider the following resources:
- A yoga philosophy course: Many courses offered online or in person can provide more insight into this fascinating mantra and its applications.
- A yoga class: Yoga instructors who concern themselves with the philosophic origins of the practice will likely apply Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha to their classes. Ask your yoga instructor how they integrate this concept.
- The Yoga Sutras: Reading a translation or interpretation of Patanjali’s words can help you understand much more about Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha and the Chitta Vritti thought types.
Regardless of which option you choose to pursue, you are sure to learn a great deal about this fascinating philosophy.
People are drawn to yoga because of its positive effects on both the body and the mind, and almost nowhere is this so clear as with the phrase Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha. First spoken by Patanjali nearly 2,000 years ago, it still serves as a guiding force for modern yogic practice always using a yoga mat.
Learning more about this mantra and how its truth can apply to everyday life will help you become a more well-rounded and meditative yogi.