Meditation is among the most important tools in Yoga practice. Patanjali dedicates an entire chapter – Chapter 3 for meditative practices. Meditation is the process of staying linked with an object of focus without any distraction which includes not only distractions from the outside but also distractions from the inside.

What does it mean? It means that many times we get distracted based on the memories we have of the object, imaginations we have of the object and even past experiences  we have of the object. When we relate with an object in thatway, when we are staying with that object in that way, we are no more in the present connection.

So meditation is a process of staying present or staying connected to an object of focus without judgements, without pre-conceived ideas, without any memories or imaginations. This can happen only when we make sure that the connection happens from our heart. So meditation is the process of opening our heart. Making a connection to the object of focus and the heart. Staying sustained with that object of focus within the heart so that we internalize the object of focus and eventually we achieve the qualities of these object of focus.

Presenting a more simple definition of meditation is my own teacher Sri TKV Desikachar. Sir TKV Desikachar defines Yoga as a meditation and as a relationship. What happens in a relationship? When we are really in a Relationship in a deep way it is a heart to heart relationship. That is what is meditation. Meditation is the relationship from our heart to the heart of the object of focus. This is Yoga. This is meditation.

Dr.Kausthub Desikachar, Viniyoga® Teacher

Why Yoga is about a Heart Connection?


Patanjali defines Yoga as “Chitavrutti Nirodha”. It is a beautiful Sutra. Why is Patanjali genius is that he not only was an expert in Sanskrit language but also he was an expert in understanding the Hymns. Patanjali uses the word Chitta to represent yoga in the Sutra “Chitavrutti Nirodhaha”. He is not using any other word for the mind such as “manas”, or “bhudhi” etc.

This is because there are different kinds of minds that we have which get activated in different instances. For example, the ‘manas’ mind is a mind that is connected to the senses. What the senses would like to follow is governed by the manas mind, because our senses do not perceive all that are in front of our eyes, the manas mind is driving the sense to see what it wants to see. That is what is called the manas – the sensory mind.   Then comes what is called “ahankara” the identification mind. Patanjali calls it “asmita”, Sankya calls it “ahankara”. We also identify this mind to identify things. This  is my house, this is my camera, this is my dog, this is my cat, I am a male, I am a Hindu, I am an Indian, I am Christian etc. All these kind of identities are part of what is called the ‘asmita’ mind. That is also lying at some times.

When I was watching a cricket match my mother wants to identify with the Indian team. That is the ‘asmita’ mind predominant at that time. Then comes what is called the “Bhudhi” mind, which is the analytical mind. What is right, what is wrong, what will happen if I do this, what will happen if I don’t do this? This is what we call as analysis. Why somebody spoke to me like that, why should I speak to somebody like that, etc. This is the mind that is having the capacity to  analyse. That is also an important part of the day to day functions. That is the mind that is functioning at the time which is called “Bhudhi”. These three minds are called “Vichitha” the external minds. These three are capable for being in the Yoga state. Deeper than that is what is called the subtle mind – “Antarchitta” the internal mind. That is where the mind called “Chitta” comes. “Chittha” mind is that which is close to the consciousness. “Chtiobhava Chittam ”.   Because the consciousness is in the heart the “Chittha” mind is the mind that is close to the consciousness which must also be in the heart.

That is why my father, TKV Desikachar, who developed Viniyoga®, often used to call it “the heart of the mind”. That is the mind that is capable of making a connection to something and Yoga is a connection itself.  That is why Patanjali uses the word “Chitthavrutti Nerodha” – that is the mind that can make the connection. That is why it is very important to remember that Yoga is more coming from the heart. When we say ‘heart’ it is not the emotion but the light in the heart.  This is what is the preciseness of Patanjali when he uses the word “Chitthavrutti Nerodhaha”. That’s where Dharana, Dyanam, Samadhi etc., all start.

Deeper than the Chitta mind is what is called the “Pratya” mind. The “Pratya” mind is the mind that is in state of meditation. Dyanam and Samadhi happens in the “Pratya” mind. Dharanaj happens in the chitta mind.  Most deep is what is called as the “Satva” mind – reflective mind. The mind that is silent. That is the mind that is dominant when we are in a state of kaivalyam (Liberation). When you analyse the Sutras very carefully you will see that Patanjali uses these different words when he is defining these different concepts. For example, “Deshabandhaha Chittasya Dharaha, Yogaha Chitavrutti Nirodhaha”.

These sutras used the word Chitta. Before meditation, “Yantra, pratya eka Dharaka Gnanam. Thadeva ardhamathra nirupam swarupa Shunyamiva samadihi. Dyanam and Samadhi he uses the word pratya. Kaivalyam – Satyapurushayoho nisamye kaivalyam . If you follow the Sutras you will see that Patanjali is a generous where using very precise words such experiences. It is not by randomness. It is because it is very well thought of and only such kind of minds can be in such kind of states. That’s why Yoga is about the heart empowering the mind which is connected to the consciousness which is called chitta and that is in our heart.

By Dr.Kausthub Desikachar, Viniyoga Teacher