The ancient Indic sage Pantanjali codified the philosophy of Yoga about 1700 years ago in the Yoga Sutras. These 196 terse statements, or threads, provide guidance in the practice of Yoga. The brevity of these statements was necessary to concisely convey their meaning among people who passed on knowledge through oral learning and inter-generational memory. Iyengar Yoga classes typically begin with a Sanskrit chant to honor Pantanjali for the gift of Yoga.
yogena cittasya padena vacam malam sarirasya ca vaidyakena yopakarottam pravaram muninam patanjalim pranajaliranato’smi abahu purusakaram sankha cakrasi dharinam sahasra sirasam svetam pranamami patanjalim
Let us bow before the noblest of sages Patanjali, who gave yoga for serenity and sanctity of mind, grammar for clarity and purity of speech and medicine for perfection of health. Let us prostrate before Patanjali, an incarnation of Adisesha, whose upper body has a human form, whose arms hold a conch and a disc, and who is crowned by a thousand-headed cobra. Let us prostrate before Lord Adisesha who manifested himself on earth as Patanjali to grace the human race with health and harmony.