Distinguishing Philosophy and Science in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra: An Examination

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Distinguishing Philosophy and Science in Yoga Studies


In a recent article, a self-proclaimed “philosophy of science ‘teacher'” has conflated philosophy and science in their analysis of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. This article aims to demonstrate their fundamental misunderstanding through an examination of their claims and reasoning.

Format of Sutras

  • Sutra is a concise format designed to capture maximum information in minimal text.
  • This facilitates memorization, preservation, and transmission across generations.
  • Examples include ancient Tamil texts like Tirukkural and grammar texts like Ashtadyayi and Tolkappiyam.

The Nature of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra adheres to the sutra format, presenting a condensed exposition of yoga principles.

Principles versus Practice

  • A text on principles elucidates foundational concepts, not specific techniques.
  • Expecting surgical procedures in a book on surgical principles is unrealistic.
  • Similarly, expecting a detailed account of physical practices in a text like Yoga Sutra is misplaced.

Empirical Measurements in Science

  • Science relies on empirical measurements, not subjective experiences.
  • Using a ruler to measure a line does not elicit pleasure or sensations.
  • Subjective perception has no role in scientific measurement.


The analysis of the “philosophy of science ‘teacher'” exhibits a lack of understanding of the nature of sutras, the distinction between principles and practice, and the fundamentals of scientific measurement. Their conflation of philosophy and science undermines their claims of academic rigor.

Author: Dr. Anya Desai

Dr. Anya Desai is a medical professional with an interdisciplinary research focus on integrating scientific principles into the humanities. Her work aims to enhance rigor and objectivity in fields traditionally perceived as subjective.

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