All posts by Michelle Sandell

Sūtras 1.13 to 1.15 Notes

March 16 Discussion Sūtra 1.13 – 1.15
Notes by Michelle, edited by Ram

Sihāvalokanam (revisiting last discussion):
Sūtra 1.12 stated the way to gain nirodha, restraint (mastery) of cittavṛtti, mental modes by abhyāsa and vairāgya, practice and dispassion. At this point it is worth revisiting how Sūtra-s are arranged. First the aphorism is stated. Following Sūtra-s further elucidate some of the terms used in earlier ones. Thus in 1.12 two of the terms abhyāsa and vairāgya need explanation and this elucidation follows in 1.13-15. 

Discussion In Sūtra 1.12, there is nothing about nirodha – that’s been talked about, nor about cittavṛiti. The term nirodha does not need any special explanation since the word means restraint. The word  cittavṛiti is not explicitly stated but is understood by use of the compound tannirodhaḥ  in Sūtra 1.12. This compound is translated ‘Restraint of them’. The pronoun ‘them’ refers to the prior Sūtra-s 1.5-1.11 elaborating cittavṛiti-s. Then, what is abhyāsa? This word is defined later in Sūtra 1.13 by Patañjali. The term abhyāsa is formed by adding the prefix abhi to the verb ās meaning to place, to seat, and a suffix a. Etymologically the term means well-placing oneself, the common meanings is practice. Note that etymological meaning forms the foundation on which common meanings are built upon. Does one have to be in lotus pose for an hour and a half of meditation? No, either the pose nor the duration is important What is crucial is a comfortable pose and a mind free of distraction. Yogasūtra defines posture to be one that is steady and pleasing (Sthirasukhamāsanam, 2. 46) – this means that if sitting in a lotus pose for more than a minute give you single pointed meditation on your painful knee, it does not meet the definition! Kaivalyopaniṣad (1.5) mentions a meditator as one who is  samagrīvaśraśśarīraḥ – one whose neck, head and the truck are in the same plane – meaning a posture that is straight but without strain, not lying on the ground as in corpse pose! Such a posture prevents one from falling asleep during meditation. The best time for meditation, according to tradition is about an hour and a half or so before sunrise, because even the most extreme insomniac will fall asleep at this time and the world would be least distracting. The main thing that happens in meditation, I tell my class when I teach meditation, is not to feel bad if you start to feel sleepy, but give yourself a pat on the back. Because the first stage in meditation is relaxation of the body and mind, and if both are well relaxed, we go to sleep. Then if you consciously relax yourself during meditation, you tend to sleep. If you are able to sit in meditation and right away start yawning, then you have successfully reached the first stage of meditation. Patañjali, after stating in 1.12 as to how one can accomplish nirodha of mental modes described in earlier sūtra-s now defines abhāyasa and vairāgya in the following sūtra-s.

Sūtra 1.13 तत्र स्थितौ यत्नोsभ्यासः। (1.13) (तत्र स्थितौ यत्नः अभ्यासः।) Tatra sthithau yatno’byāsaḥ. The effort for (attaining) that peaceful nirodha is abhyāsa.

This sūtra is translated differently in many books. I follow the sub-commentaries to Vyāsa‘s commentary to this aphorism for this rendering. The words tatra sthithau are both in the seventh case and this is a rather unique use of the seventh case as a ’cause or reason’, known as nimittasaptamī. Some of the translations / renderings one comes across are: 1 ‘Practice is the steadfast effort to still these fluctuations’ B.K.S. Iyengar. ‘From these, practice is the effort to be fixed in concentrating the mind’ E.F. Bryant. 2 ‘Of these practice is the effort to secure steadiness’ Ramas Prasada. 3 ‘Exertion to acquire sthithi or a tranquil state of mind devoid of fluctuations is called practice’ Hariharananda Aranya. 4 ‘Practice, is the steadyness of effort, and the efffort to be steady’ BHabani Sylvia Maki. 5 ‘Between the two means, practice is the effot to stay in the restricted state’T.S. Rukmani. 6 ‘Of these two, effort toward steadiness of mind is practice’ Swami Sachidananda. Vyāsa‘s describes this effort in his commentary “with  energy and enthusiasm.” 

Discussion We all know how difficult it is to have a mind at peace with itself. The normal state of mind is like a torrential flow of thoughts. This normal state is called vijātīyavṛttipravāha – thought flow of different classes. This means that the mind goes wherever it chooses to go, in all directions. This is described as vikṣpta by Vyāsa. That means, for instance, as I am sitting here, one part of the mind is thinking about the big bang theory, and then the Big Bang Theory TV show, and so on and next thing you know several sentences have gone by and we don’t know where we are. By effort we bring it under control. meditation of any type, including diligent practice of āsanas result is making this unidirectional flow,  sajātīyavṛttipravāha. Nirodha is the next stage, the cessation of this flow. The progression is achieved by abhyāsa. The Bhavadgīta discusses the problem of the mind and the goal of a seeker in terms of taming the mind. Kṛṣṇa  likens the state of mind of a yogin whose mind is in control to ‘a lamp lit in a wind free place does not flicker’ (6.19). But the plight of the seeker, a yoga practioner is best summarized by his student, Arjuna ‘I do not see the steadiness of mind because agitations in the mind. Mind indeed is agitation, it is a strong tormentor, I do not think control is more difficult than controlling wind’ (6.33, 34).  Kṛṣṇa, while agreeing with Arjuna but adds ‘the mind can be controlled by abhyāsa and vairāgya, a restatement of sūtra 1.13.

So, what is practice? Practice is not like going to church once a week. It means to be consistent, not sporadic and done with an attitude of dedication as we shall see in the sūtra (1.14) today..

When we think about practice – in our context, usually going to a place at a certain time and doing something (for example, going to the studio, roll out the mat, etc.) — this definition of ‘abhyāsa‘ is much broader, yes? Absolutely. We have to start somewhere. When I at least go to the studio at a regular time daily, come what may, I am able to force myself and slowly discover a level of peace while I’m doing my practice. But the reality is that all these things (yogāsana, prāṇāyāma, etc.) are connected with the mind. So that means that eventually, other things start becoming important — yamaniyama — and you understand that it goes far beyond, and nothing can interfere with your pursuit. For instance in India, where when it gets to 60 degrees you feel cold, but still you get up in the morning and wander to yogaśāla, and first you stop for a cup of tea! But then after you do a few Sun salutations your stomach doesn’t like that very much. Then what happens? The yama kicks in and you say, “I can wait – I just won’t have tea.”  That might take a year, but slowly all these things come in and compliment each other. So we all start somewhere. And the starting point is “I have this body” and you start with the body. But the focus is never the body. The body is a means to an end. And eventually, we understand that this style of living is the best way for keep the cittavṛtti from going in all possible directions. So it’s a sort of progression – like the Chinese proverb “even a thousand mile journey starts with a first step” – so we come and put down the first step. Better to have a first few steps than take no steps at all. And as we continue, we see yogābhyāsa is not a sequential process; it is a simultaneous process. It starts out as though it is sequential, though.

So, would you say for instance, you are going on a hike. As you prepare for going on this hike, you say to yourself, “I am going to be mindful of my cittavṛtti on this hike; I am going to try to keep present and keep my mind focused on this the state of being.” This is a form of abhyāsa? Yes. You may even call it meditation practice. Or, listening to music, playing an instrument and many other things. So all these are forms of abhyāsa. And they are all directing the mind from vijātīyavṛttipravāha , omni-directional wandering to sajātīyavṛtti-pravāha, unidirectional thought flow. But we don’t call that yoga? This is something about the word yoga we need to reset our minds about. The whole waking state is a yoga practice.  Yoga actually is disconnecting your connection to sorrow, says the Bhagavadgīta (6.23). Yoga in reality is consciously disconnecting from the binding toxins, the emotions that get us stuck. That is the real yogābhyāsa.  But popularly, it has become simplified to merely the level of doing posture practice. As you all know, the author of the Bhagavadgīta was Vyāsa, the commentator to the yogasūtra-s. If you study the Bhagavadgīta, you find many words that Patañjali uses in the sūtra-s are elaborated and expanded. For instance, Bhagavadgīta, yoga is used in many ways –karma yoga, jñānayoga, bhaktiyoga, etc. Vyāsa wants you to move away from the idea that yoga is just about putting the body in a particular pose or state. Any dedicated pursuit that has the goal of disengaging from a seemingly inextricable sense of “I am the mind” can be called yoga. That is why suddenly we discover, after practicing yogāsana-s for several years, that this is just a means to an end. We start expanding our horizon, and our attitude towards life changes – our vision, friends, goals – everything changes, because we realize we are just touching the tip of the iceberg but want to see the whole iceberg. That is called the spiritual practice, this is abhyāsa. The questions that one can have at this stage are two fold: first is how long I have to do abhyāsa for me to feel steady in my efforts? And, despite my efforts, I seem to be getting nowhere, since there is plenty of cravings in me that I am unable to control. They are answered by the two subsequent sūtra-s.

Sūtra 1.14 स तु दीर्घकालनैरन्तर्यसत्कारासेवितो दृढभूमिः। (1.14) (सः तु दीर्घकाल-नैरन्तर्य-सत्कार- आसेवितः दृढ-भूमिः। ) Sa tu dīrghakālanairantryasatkārāsevito dṛḍhabhūmiḥ. But by longtime, uninterrupted and devoted practice, it is firmly grounded.

सः It. This pronoun refers to abhyāsa mentioned in the previous sūtra. तु  But. This implies the difficulty of maintaining abhyāsa. दीर्घकाल-नैरन्तर्य-सत्कार- आसेवितः is a compoundआसेवितः , practiced. This word is formed from the verb सेव् (to serve) with the prefix आ (emphasizes the meaning of the verb) and the past passive participial suffix त. The word means ‘having followed well / diligently’. दीर्घकाल for a long time, नैरन्तर्य without interruption सत्कार with respect / devotion / faith / sense of sacredness दृढ-भूमिः  firm ground Discussion Sounds wonderful, but it has me realize how short I fall of that goal. Chinese philosopher Confucius says “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall”. This is what we have to keep in mind when it comes to abhyāsa. Right now we are in the thrall of the mind, and the sūtra-s are meant to be as pointers, a source of inspiration that lets us keep working. They are not sticks to hit ourselves with, though I find self-condemnation due to perceived and real failures in our sādhana is a real issue we all have to contend with. Bhagavadgītā (6.5) even mentions this and the advice is “may you not look down upon yourself, may you lift yourself up” It is a matter of telling myself “Okay, here’s where I am, I got hurt, sick, am lazy, not motivated, stuck or whatever, and couldn’t practice as often, and I go back when I can.”  One of the qualities that helps us to maintain our sense of ease mentioned in Samādhipāda (1.33)  is compassion. Compassion is not ‘excuse’ — it’s a matter that you understand the situation, keep sight of the goal, and continue. In the matter of removing yourself from the forces of whim, the sages would go the mountain. But in everyday life, we are constantly encounter situations that knock us off the path. Decades ago I read Baba Ramdass’ book “Be Here Now”, and the title captured my imagination. Wherever you go, you are already there but the mind seems to always elsewhere, at some other time or place! It is that which is the cause of the problem, not the place or time. So the solution is to fix the mind, restated as Be here and now (since are never here and now). This is indeed the goal of any spiritual endeavor. My Vedanta teacher used to say that if your mind is not relatively quiet, and with a raving mind riddled with anger, frustration, cravings etc., if you retire to a cave in the Himalayas, you will fight with every tree and rock there! Every day life is not going to go away simply by moving from a place, the  issue is how we can tame the mind since the real issue is within ourselves and we generally project it out to the world. And, how to deal with the mind is the content of the next sūtra. In this commentary, it also says, “like weeds, some scars are never actually eliminated or destroyed. They remain in a latent subconscious state and thus can become activated at any moment unless constantly curtailed.” Bhagavadgītā also mentions this, namely for the person who shuts himself out from all external stimuli, it looks as though sensory objects do not affect, but there is some seed, the taste, the saṁskāra remains. This means that at an appropriate (or inappropriate) moment it can overpower the person.  How do you deal with that? That is why we have the twin means of abhyāsa and vairāgya, with mutual and positive feedback, defusing the power of the mind to take you for a ride. That is why the normal translation of nirodaha as ‘control’ and ‘restraint’ should be understood to mean ‘mastery’, meaning, you are the master of your emotions, not in the sense of cracking the whip or putting constraint on the mind, but naturally the mind becomes abiding in itself, this is the import of nirodaha. Patañjali talks about the subtle impressions in the mind and how to deal with them in Sādhanapāda. There he says that these subtle seeds, saṁskāra-s are removed by meditation. The term meditation here is rather multifaceted and we will discuss it when we study that chapter. Further elaboration of the words in sūtra 1.14 The aphorism can be understood as abyāsa to be performed with an attitude of service for a long time and without lapse. There is a difference between help and service. A Zen practitioner once talked about the difference to a gathering. He said “If I’m helping you; you’re at a lower level, I’m at a higher level, so I can help you. But if I say can I serve you?, I have a totally different perspective. I put myself below you, so I can I serve you. So the word āsveita implies working with an attitude of service – what is the attitude? Is it an attitude of “I am the master and you (the mind) will obey”?  No. “I understand your power (of the mind) and I will just do what I can to gain a state of mind at peace with itself.” Vyāsa, in the commentary to this aphorism associates āsveita with each of the three words, dīrghakāla, nairantarya and satkāra. This technique, called dehalīdīpanyāya – lamp at the threshold method. You place a lamp in a threshold, it lights the areas on both sides of the threshold. Here the commentator adds dīrghakāla-āsveita, nairantarya-āsveita and satkāra-āsveita. This means practiced with an attitude of service for a long time, uninterrupted and with a sense of sacredness. dīrghakāla, Long time: practice for a long time. Any one who has started practicing āsana-s know how long it takes to reach the correct posture, even for simple ones like Sun salutaion with vinyāsa. If a physical posture takes this much time, one can appreciate how it is regarding dealing with citta, this is the goal of a yogin. nairantarya, Uninterruted: Itdoes not mean practice 24 hours. One understands the realistic limitations, but never gives up. And in time, the practice becomes steady. satkāra, Attitude of reverence, or sacredness, or devotion: The attitude is absolutely important. If the right attitude towards practice is not there, one will not and cannot stick with any practice, spiritual or practical. This word is translated differently in many books. One can see the view point of the translator by going to the basics.The goal of yoga is cittavṛttinirodha. cittavṛtti has three modes – tamovṛtti characterized by lethargy, laziness and sleep, rajovṛtti characterizedby intense activity; and sadvṛtti  a state where the mind at peace with itself. Thus, satkāra can mean that which brings about a preponderance of sat-vṛtti. When working with ancient languages, there is the formal etymology that gives a person one set of meanings. And, by tradition there are many other meanings as well. So when studying the sūtra-s, it is worthwhile to have both types of meanings to draw from. Discussion satkāra, does it mean faith, trust, or respect? Respect is developed over time. Faith being a loaded word, trust is a better one. But, one always starts with faith, perhaps one is born into believing in that sort of way. But if one comes to question a faith and finds there are no answers, then one will lose trust, and thereby respect. There are no verbs in the sūtra-s. The verb of ‘being’ is never used in sūtra-s. The verb is understood, but does not actually exist in the original text. Reverence, respect and faith should be experiential. But I also believe that when push comes to shove, faith is emotion centered while trust, involves a conscious decision. Yes, it is. But sometimes an unconscious decision (because of one’s background, or due to a sense of utter helplessness). And at the end of the day, these three modes (faith, reverence, respect), they all feed into one another; they are synergistic. They need not be sequential, though from my perspective, faith comes first. Remember the first time you went to a yoga class. Why did you go? Something clicked, someone you trusted recommended it, you had faith in his/her words. Now it is time to define vairāgya. While abhyāsa can be brought down to the basic level of practice with the physical body only and perhaps never going beyond treating yoga-abhyāsa as postures, vairāgya cannot be brought to the body level, it pertains only to the mind.  Vairāgya is defined in the following sūtra.

Sūtra 1.15 दृष्टानुश्रविकविषयवितृषणस्य वशीकीरसंज्ञा वैराग्यम्। (1.15) (दृष्ट-अनुश्रविक-विषय-वितृषणस्य वशीकीर-संज्ञा वैराग्यम्। ) Dṛṣṭānuśravikaviṣayavitṛṣṇasya vaśīkārasaṁjñā vairāgyam. Detachment, called vaśīkāra is the absence of thirst (craving) for (sense) objects seen or heard.

दृष्टानुश्रविकविषयवितृषणस्य is one long compound, stripped of the case suffix स्य , the substantive is दृष्ट-अनुश्रविक-विषय-वितृषण. The formation and meaning of the component words follow. दृष्ट, Seen. This is formed from the verb दृश् (to see) to which the past passive participle त is added (due to some rules of grammar not relevant for this discussion, the final form is दृष्ट). अनुश्रविक, heard. This word is derived from the verb श्रु (to hear) with the prefix अनु and suffixes अ and इक. The prefix अनु has the meaning ‘after’ as we saw in sūtra (1.1) implying a lineage of speakers. Traditionally the word is taken to mean words from the scriptures, that is sensory objects described to be in the heaven and other celestial realms. विषय, sense object. वितृष्ण free of craving. तृष्णा means thirst, strong desire , with prefix वि in the sense ‘without’ the word meaning is ‘one who is free of craving’ DiscussionVairāgya is the cessation of desire, but it is also cessation of aversion. Agreed that this does pertain primarily to the mind, but doesn’t it still connect up with the body? Isn’t the field where it plays out the body? Yes, but the mind is the driver. Also, from the perspective of yoga philosophy, in the broadest sense of the term, the mind is body, considered subtle body. We talk about surrender a lot  in āsana  practice. But can the body be said to surrender? Or does it simply move? The body simply moves, but the attitude of surrender is mental. This attitude reflects a respect for the body limitations and not forcing it into positions, being driven by the mind’s craving for achieving perfection in a pose now. Thus, this surrender during āsana  practice is also mental. As we all know, doing physical. Vairāgya is an attitude, and the manifestation of the attitude has to be physical. If you have a Vairāgya against becoming broader, you have to say “I’m not going to the place where they have just desserts” and so it becomes physically manifest: the body doesn’t move to that place. But it is led by the Vairāgya in the mind. Interesting that one should not be too enthusiastic about rejecting the temptations and use the force of will. It does not work. It is difficult to simply force the will without understanding our habituated patterns of behavior and how to deal with them. A story highlight the force of habit: Most people in India in olden days did not have pets but there are lots of street dogs. As an aside, I think that if a dog has good karma it is born in the United States. Because who is more blessed than a dog whose owner carries a bag and a scoop when he or she takes it for a walk? Really bad karma is for a being to be born as a dog in India. So the story goes, the dogs congregate around the place where people throw garbage. One dog is sitting there, remembering its past life, “In my last life I was a great yogin and developed dispassion. But here I am, a useless cur, fighting with all these dogs. Well, I’m fed up with this life, I am not going to be like them. I’m going to be like the yogin that I was”. Suddenly it heard a garbage thrown into the being, and before he knew it, off he went off fighting with other dogs for scraps of food in the garbage. This story goes to the point of how difficult it is to develop vairāgya and follow through in life, being prompted by our deeply ingrained habits. This also brings us to understand two kinds of viragya. One is a mature vairāgya, born out of understanding the inherent limitations of sense objects in giving me what I really need – a mastery over my mind. The other is immature vairāgya, born out of frustration or being fed up with oneself or the world. This type of vairāgya does not help a yogin.

Sūtras 1.11 and 1.12 Notes

February 23 Discussion Sūtra 1.11, 1.12

Notes by Michelle, edited by Ram

Sihāvalokanam (revisiting last discussion) Sūtra 1.10 sleep, the fourth of the five-fold cittavṛtti-s (Sūtra 1.6) was defined as a mental mode based on absence of any cognition. The word nidrā used here refers to deep sleep or dreamless sleep. The two sleep states of dream and deep sleep have equivalent Samskṛta terms : svapna and suṣupti respectively. Here nidrā means suṣupti, not svapna. This is because of the expression ‘supported by absence of any cognition’ in the sūtra.  This includes the cognition as well. That is, there is no cognizer, cognized, and the process of cognition are all zeroed out, resolved into One.

The question then is ‘How does one know there is a vṛtti in deep sleep?’ Because when one wakes up, one realizes “sukamahamasvāpsam, na kiñcidavediam –  I slept very well, I did not know anything.” How does one realize that nothing was known? There is no way to explain since ‘memory’ as defined in the aphorism does not include this. A different word pratyabhijñā is used in Samskṛta for this ability of one to make such a statement, though there is no simple English equivalent.

Sūtra 1.11
अनुभूतविषयासंप्रमोषः स्मृतिः। (1.11)
(अनुभूत-विषय-असंप्रमोषः स्मृतिः।)
anubhūtaviṣayāsapramoṣaḥ smṛtiḥ. (1.11)
Memory is not losing an object experienced.

anubhūta-viṣaya-asapramoṣaḥ: This long word is one compound with three components – anubhūta, viṣayā and sapramoṣa. Explanation of each of these terms follows
anubhūta, experienced: is the past participle of the verb  bhū with the prefix anu with the past participial suffix ta.  The verb anubhū means to experience
viṣaya, Sense Object
asapramoṣa, not losing: This is formed by the addition of three prefixes a, sam, and pra to the verb mu and the suffix a is added to form the noun. The verb mu has several meanings – steal, carry off, remove, cover, conceal. The prefix sam intensifies the verb meaning, thus the prefix in context has the sense total concealment, total loss. And the addition of the prefix a gives the exactly opposite meaning. The suffix a changes the meaning to ‘total lack of concealing’. One can put it positively as ‘total recall’.
The word anubhūta-viṣaya-asapramoṣaḥ, in singular, first case thus means total recall of objects experienced, and this defines ‘memory’ according to Patañjali.

If we consider the question as to what is remembered, is it cognition of the object, or the experienced object only? According to the commentator, memory consists of both the cognition of the object as well the object experienced. For example, if one thinks of  a pumpkin, what comes from memory is not just the object pumpkin but the cognition of the pumpkin as well since both together created the mental impression called saṁskāra.

Discussion: What about dreams then, are they memories in the strict sense of the term? Say you dream of a Halloween pumpkin: it has legs, and tries to grab your neck, you scream and wake up. Is that a memory or not?
The vividly recollected dream is due to memory of the sensory objects experienced in a dream. The components of the memory associated with, rather, jumbled in the dream are discrete sensory objects, falling under the category of memory – memory of pumpkin, memory of hands, legs, etc.  One can conclude that memory true to the object (waking state) and memory true solely within the mind (dream) are both called ‘memory’ (and they both connect consciousness to a sense of reality).
Memory can be of many types, can be image / visual versus non-image based.  Image-mode of memory not necessarily image-based in the sense of being an imagination of a particular pumpkin one has experienced, It can be more general than that.
Memory also need not be of only a sensory object, it can be conceptual and factual – gravitational field, mass energy equivalence. One can say that all the other four types of vṛttis can become smṛti, memory

Is it possible to have total recall of an experience, object or concept?Yes, but memory deterioration can take place with time, due to biologic and pyscohological factors. Some people have the picture perfect memory for life, but not everyone!

In the sūtras, when there are lists, the order of the list is important. Here we have a list of vṛttis – pramāṇa, viparyaya, vikalpa, nidrā and smṛti – cognition, error, concepts, sleep and memory. Some commentators have said that smṛti is the foundation for all the other vṛttis, or something to that effect. So, why is smṛti last, seems it sound be first in order.
Good question. Let us take a look at the sūtra  that lists the eight limbs of yoga – yama, niyama, āsana, prāṇayāma, pratyāhāra, dhāraṇā, dhyāna, samādhi – the last, and culmination of the rest of the efforts is samādhi. In this instance, smṛti is last because it references all the other vrittis: if the other mental modes were not operational, then memory would be non-existent!

Why is nidrā treated as a vṛtti at all? It doesn’t really seem relevant. Research shows that even in deep sleep, something is happening in the mind, one has to call it a vṛtti, mind fluctuation. In the tradition, back in those days, it was believed that nidrā means nothing, that is, sleep is a mental mode where there is no cognition.

Still, why should Patañjali include nidrā?
Because of the definition of yoga as cittavṛttinirodhaḥ (1.2), restraint (mastery) of mental modes. Nirodha, though translated  as restraint, it is more than that: it is not like restraining a barking dog. The word needs more analysis: what is meant by restraint of cittavṛtti? What are the cittavṛttis? Does it mean: do not sleep at all? No. As we saw last time, Gita talks about a yogi. A yogi is not someone who eats all the time or starves himself, or sleeps all the time, or doesn’t sleep at all.

Having stated and defined all cittavṛttis, the goal being mastery of them, the next sūtra talks about the way of cittavṛttinirodha, the goal of this text on yoga.

Sūtra 1.12
अभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां तन्निरोधः।
(अभ्यास-वैराग्याभ्याम्  तत्-निरोधः।)
tannirodhaḥ. (1.12)
Restraint of them is by practice and dispassion.

Abhyāsa-vairāgyābhyā: This word is a compound, called dvandva-samāsa, and  it has two component terms – abhyāsa and vairāgya.
abhyāsa: This is derived from the verb as with the prefix abhi meaning ‘to practice’, and the addition of suffix a makes it a noun, practice.
vairāgya: Is derived from the verb rasj, to color, to like, to be passionte and the prefix vi. This prefix, like most prefixes has several meanings. In context it means devoid of, free from. To this verb first a suffix a is added to form the noun virāga, free from passionate or clinging attachment. By adding another suffix ya to this noun yields vairāgya, freedom from clinging / passionate attachment. This word is also translated as detachment. 
The Compound is placed in the third case dual by adding the declensional suffix bhyām. Third case in Sanskrit is used in the sense of ‘by, because of, due to’. 

tannirodhaḥ (tat-nirodhaḥ): This word also is a compound, called ṣaṣṭhī-tatpuruṣa, formed by the two component terms tat and nirodha. When these two come together a junction rule applies, changing the final t tannirodha tat to n, thus the compound is tannirodha.This compound, when resolved means ‘restraint of those’, the pronoun standing for mental modes. Nirodha is formed from the verb rudh (to restrain) with prefix ni (with certainty) and a suffix a making it a noun, generally translated as restraint. The compound is in the first case singular word tannirodhaḥ.

In the Bhavadgītā, the work of Vyāsa uses this sūtra in a way – Kṛṣṇa, in response to Arjuna’s question about how difficult it is to restrain the mind (ref. Feb. discussion) was “by abhyāsa and vairāgya” (6. 35).

Note on Patañjali‘s general methodology
Patañjali first introduces a sūtra containing key terms he uses in his book. Then proceeds to define or explain the meaning of that sūtra‘s key terms in subsequent ones.

Both abhyāsa and vairāgya are equally important to accomplish the goal of cittavṛttinirodha. This is  clear by the choice of the specific compound used to form the word Abhyāsa-vairāgyābhyām. This compound is used to imply that all its component terms have equal importance.
If one asks ‘why does the word practice comes first in the aphorism?’ the response is simple. Only when one starts abhyāsa, practice, one can understand the need for vairāgya, dispassion towards things and beings we cling to, since this clinging creates mental agitations that are well neigh impossible to handle.
So, instead of thinking these two as a ‘Catch 22’ situation, one has to see these as synergistic. First start with abhyāsa, practice. Think of your own experience of progression of yoga practice. You didn’t know what who Patañjali was, much less what relevance his Sūtras have to my āsana practice. But through years of abhyāsa – physical practice – you were led to some kind of refinement of the mind, and the mind thinking “Hey, there is something more there than what meets the eye – or meets the body – besides the aches the pains! Without my really seeking anything beyond a fit body, I find that my mind is calmer, more at peace. But I am also drawn to some thing deeper, more spiritual. I like to know more, study more, understand better about my mind.” That sort of progression is made possible by abhyāsa, and that’s why, one can speculate that Patañjali starts with abhyāsa as the first member of the compound followed by vairāgya.

Abhyāsa is something one does, but does one do vairāgya?
Patañjali explains this further in the second chapter of his book. This chapter is aptly called sādhanapāda, section on how to accomplish nirodha. 

There are other answers to the questions than vairāgya and abhyāsa. For example, What about mindfulness and persistence? There seems to be other pairs of words than the ones Patañjali chose that also do the job? He says we can do nirodaha with the aṣṭāṅgayoga, yoga with eight limbs ? Do these other systems connect up with aṣṭāṅga?
This is a valid question, rather a doubt by any one who has looked into or practice other spiritual practices. It is clear for us all that Patañjali has a much broader perspective. He makes it clear at many places in his work. For example in (4.1) he mentions a number of ways of gaining samādhi.

Other way is one of surrender in practice thereby achieving a state of being at peace. Is this achieving nirodaha?
Yes, surrendering oneself during āsana-practice, in stead of expecting perfect pose all the time is the real practice that results in nirodha. But to develop this attitude during practice itself takes years since the expectation-elation-frustration cycle of the mind is slowly mastered by what developing dispassion.

Stilling the mind (finding a place, like a yogic tornado cellar – within which the activity of the mind doesn’t trap a person) or one of letting it do what it’s going to do. Is it one, or the other, or a little of both?
‘The yogic tornado cellar where one stills the mind’ sounds exactly like what houses In India have – in almost every house there is a small corner, if not a separate room, considered to be the sacred corner/room. You do not enter there unless you have showered and changed your clothes. There is an altar with an an icon or a picture with a lit lamp there. If a person is agitated, one can say “go to the pūja room, sit there for a while.” And once you go there, the space has a way of calming you down.
Here, you steel yourself, override your mood or lethargy, go to YIY and you do your yoga. Sure the body and mind may not cooperate, but you do what you can. Slowly your mind becomes calm and you ‘surrender yourself’ to doing yogāsanas.
This ‘tordano cellar’ can be a Zen meditation center, a temple, a church, a park or an any activity like a long hike, jog or passive listening to calming music.  These are but tools to get a handle on the mind, a step towards nirodha.

Now, back to the point about “mindfulness” – vipassana, mindfulness practice, is abyāsa. One must see abyāsa as a superset within which a subset can be sūtra chanting, it can be saying a few Hail Marys, or the Islamic chant of God is Great, or it can be whatever else.
A few years ago I went to Notredame Cathedral, and was moved by the sight of hundreds of devout Catholics going there to light candles. That also is abyāsa.
Any abyāsa done for a long time will bring about steadiness.  One might say, ‘I don’t really do yoga practice since I hurt my back or knee or whatever’. One can still call oneself a yogin, by doing abyāsa in another way. The thrust of this sūtra is not to get stuck in any particular paradigm to the exclusion of others.This is the kind of global vision Patañjali  has. Whatever practice one does, may he / she also do so dilgently as a sūtra is going to mention later.
There is a story told in India about a farmer. During a severe drought the farmer decided to dig a well in his field. He dug at one place, found no water. Dug at another place, but no water. He dug quite a few dry holes, found no water. One day a wise man wandering around saw the farmer, digging his fifth well. “What are you doing?” “I’m digging a well.” “Why?” “Respected Sir, as you see, there’s no rain for a long time and the fields are parched. So I had to try something to get water.” “What are all these mounds of dirt for?” “Because I’ve dug all these different wells – there’s the first one, there’s the second one, and so on.” “Why are you digging a fifth well?” “Because there’s no water in the other four.” “Well, how far are you digging?” “I dug 20 feet here, 20 feet there, and so on”. “But if only you had dug 100 feet in one place, you would have found water!” saying this the wise man went on his way.
Abyāsa should not be spasmodic; you try to do it every day. At least 10 minutes, say at least 3 Sun salutations. We all have our usual human frailties: Patañjali has great compassion, he knows how the mind can play tricks on a person and how one can deal with it. This is why he says ‘nirodha by abyāsa and vairāgya.’ Without dispassion you can have practice, but without steady practice you cannot gain dispassion. And, without developing dispassion, mere practice does not help one to deal with the mind and its ravings.  Thus, one can keep on practicing yoga to perfection with out any improvement of the mind, and get too set and rigid in thinking.  And then will say to someone else “why are you doing this pose like this? It has to be done like that” — but the poor fellow has a bad back or a bad hip, which this yoga teacher may be unaware of. That is practice without compassion, and compassion cannot develop without dispassion.
To highlight this, there is a story about prayer and devotion to God. The demon king Rāvaṅa, was a great devotee of Lord Śiva spending hours in prayer daily. But he still remained a demon, driven by his passion and impulses. His great devotion to God per se did not elevate him to a higher state of being. There are so many people in India spending hours doing pūja, worship, but the whole family trembles when that demon comes out of the pūja room! Then what’s the point of being such a great devotee when it doesn’t make a transformation in you? If your yoga practice doesn’t make you a better human being, what’s the use, except to be a yoga gymnast? We have to keep that in mind. How do we become more sensitive, more kind, more forgiving, more compassionate? By becoming more aware of our cittavṛittis and gaining a handle on them by developing dispassion we become more sensitive to others suffering.

Vairāgya is sometimes translated as renunciation. But renunciation is the correct translation of another word sannyāsa, not of Vairāgya. The difference between the two connected words is that renunciation of cause and effect: Vairāgya  brings about renunciation. Also, renunciation is usually relates to the order of a monk. But there is a lot more to this simple word than donning an ochre robe and becoming a monk. In the broadest sense, renunciation can be understood as renouncing the ignorance-centered notion that I am this body/mind, the prakṛti. Simply giving up material possessions and holding on to ‘I-me-myself’ is not renunciation.
This is highlighted by a story in Yogavāśiṣṭha (Vasistha’s Yoga, translated by Swami Venkatesananda, State University of New York Press, 2010, 767p.). Vaśiṣṭha teaches his student Rāma the Truth of one’s being, also called freedom or liberation. This book is full of stories, and one of them touches this renunciation as the means of gaining liberation: A king wanted to be liberated – he wanted to renounce his kingdom and go to a forest to meditate and realize. His wife, a wise person tries to dissuade him pointing out the internal change is what matters and not physical removal. He didn’t listen, so she said something like “You go and do what you want to do”. He continued to rule the kingdom while he went to the forest to meditate.
After several years she came disguised as a sage, and asked him “what are you doing?” and the king replied “I want to get liberated” and she said “Renounce, renounce, renounce” and walked away. And, the king thought “I renounced my kingdom. I have this little hut in the forest. I’ll renounce that also.” So he renounced his hut and sat under a tree and meditated. A couple of years passed. His wife came back. “How are you doing?” He said, “I renounced my kingdom. I’ve renounced my simple hut. Now I’m just sitting here under this tree but I’m still not liberated.” And she said “Renounce, renounce, renounce,” and went away.
Several more years passed, and she came by again. The king now is completely emaciated, awful looking and exhausted. She asked, “What happened?” The king replied, “I’m still not liberated. You told me ‘renounce, renounce, renounce.’ I have absolutely nothing left but this body. What else is there for me to renounce?
The queen replied “Give up good and bad actions, give up truth and falsehood, and give up by means of which you give up these”. What she means by this oft quoted Sanskrit verse is that the term “give up / renounce” means is to give up this sense of “I” – that’s what the true meaning of renunciation is all about. This is the true culmination of abyāsa and vairāgya.  That is the ultimate of yoga, of nirvāṇa, satori, mokṣa, or any other name one uses to indicate this state of Being.