As a teacher of Ashtanga Yoga, I often read, study, and then use in my practice Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

In his analysis, Patanjali discusses the five kinds of Vrittis (वृत्ति in Sanskrit, literally meaning whirlpool), or fluctuations of consciousness, that represent the different activities our mind can be involved in while it is in the medium of consciousness.

Short disclaimer: the Asana you will find here are quite basic, yet they require a minimum of flexibility and stamina. Please do not attempt them if you are unfit or you feel ill.

The Vrittis

So, which are these five Vrittis?

  • Pramana – प्रमाण – means of knowledge, valid knowledge, proofs
  • Viparyaya – विपर्यय – lack of comprehension
  • Vikalpa – विकल्प – imagination, daydreaming
  • Nidra – निद्रा – sleep, inertia, dullness, torpor, passive acceptance
  • Smriti – स्मृति – memory, that which is remembered, inherited culture, moral

Patanjali in his Sutras writes that “Yoga is the cessation of the movements of consciousness” and that once this kind of activity get stopped, the “seer” (or what we can call “the conscious principle of our being“) finally “dwells in its own true splendor” (Sutras 1.2 to 1.3).


According to Hindu philosophy, there are six Pramana:

  • Pratyaksha – Perception – Direct Experience
  • Anumana – Inference – Using logical conclusions
  • Upamana – Comparison – Learning by observing similarities
  • Arthapatti – Postulation or Hypotheses
  • Anupalabdhi – Non-apprehension and Non-perception
  • Sabda – Verbal testimony, Spoken and Written words

It’s not that we should avoid Vrittis, yet, we need to be aware of them and of their effect on us so that we can deliberately choose.

20 Minutes Morning Yoga

The following practice is thought to be performed in the morning, better if at dawn. Its goal is to enhance one’s ability to get free from the control exerted by the five Vrittis.


Wash yourself. Brush your teeth, wash your face, whatever makes you feel comfortable and refreshed. Wear loose, comfortable, clean clothing.


Tadasana – ताड़ासन (Mountain Pose) 3 Minutes

Stand erect, with the feet parallel, a few inches apart.
Lift and spread your toes and the balls of your feet, then lay them softly back down again on the floor. Rock and sway gently, keeping your pose, back and forth and side to side. Gradually reduce the oscillations bringing them to a standstill, with your weight balanced evenly across your feet.
Feel the energy coming up from your feet up through your core.
Without pushing your lower front ribs forward, try and lift the top of your sternum straight toward the ceiling. Keep your collarbones wide. Draw your shoulder blades toward each other and down the back, so imagine moving them away from your ears.
Let your arms relax at the sides of your torso, with the palms facing in (or forward).
Balance in a way that allows the crown of your head to be right over the center of your pelvis, with the chin parallel to the floor, the throat kept relaxed, and your tongue kept broad and flat on the floor of your mouth.
Soften the muscles of your face. your eyes, your forehead. Breathe gently in a “5 seconds in – 5 seconds hold – 5 seconds” out pattern.

Tadasana – Image from Wikipedia

Padangusthasana – पादाङ्गुष्ठासन (Touching the Feet) 4 minutes

Starting from tadasana, start broadening your feet to a distance of about 6 inches, then start bending the torso from the junction of the spine and hip, being aware of the joints you are using.
Keep your legs completely straight and your kneecaps lifted.
While exhaling, lower your torso and your head keeping them together as if they were a single block. Bend progressively lower from the hips, not at the waist level.
Bend forwards until you touch your forehead to your knees (if you cannot reach this level, go down until you are able to).
Keep the legs straight, if it is possible.
Firmly grip the big toes using the index and middle fingers and the thumbs. Press your toes firmly on the fingers.
Then, slightly lift up your torso as if you wanted to stand again as you inhale. As you exhale release your torso so that your lower back hollows.
After several cycles of inhaling and exhaling, exhale while lowering your elbows to the sides, then pull the big toes. Hold this position for a few seconds, then release the grip on the toes and get back to the standing position.

Padangusthasana – Image from Internet

Ustrasana – उष्ट्रासन (4 minutes) Camel Pose

Now, after the previous asana, lower your body to the ground till your knees touch the ground, but keep the back erect. Settle into this pose till the body weight feels comfortably distributed. The feet should be about a shoulder-width apart.
Breath in and out for a minute.
Next, stand on your knees while leaning backward. Reach your right heel and hold it with the right palm and similarly reach the left heel and hold it with the left palm.
Bending backward can be done slowly and in progressive steps, until where it remains comfortable.
Breath in and out, and remain in this pose for up to 3 minutes, breathing slowly all the while. Feel the breath filling the entire upper torso, counting till 5 before exhaling, holding your breath for a short while before exhaling. Make a little pause even before inhaling again.
Release the asana slowly.

Ustrasana -image from Wikipedia

Simhasana – सिंहासन (4 minutes) Lion pose

From the previous ending reach a kneeling seated position.
The full weight of the torso is now on the shins. Become aware of the contact of your body’s weight with the ground, visualizing the connection between them.
Spread your knees wide apart keeping the toes of both feet touching each other.
Bring your palms to the floor between your knees and turn the fingertips towards you, thus bringing your wrist outward-facing.
Keep the alignment of the spine by keeping your chest open.
Shift the body weight on the wrists and then bring your head backward while closing your eyes.
When comfortable, open your eyes and focus on the center of the eyebrows.
Inhale slowly and deeply, while bringing your tongue out and towards your chin as you exhale. Produce a deep “aah” sound from your throat as you exhale, then close your mouth.
Repeat the breathing procedure with the sound 3-5 times.

Simhasana – Image from Wikipedia

Shavasana – शवासन (5 minutes) The Corpse Pose

Shavasana is performed on the back with the legs spread as wide as your shoulder, and even a little bit more.
Your arms are relaxed to both the sides of the body, the palms are facing upwards, and the eyes are kept closed.
The whole body is relaxed on the floor with full awareness of the chest and abdomen rising and falling with each inspiration and expiration.
While practicing this asana, scan all the parts of your body to find, and consciously release any muscular tension in the body.
After the body scan, you will also release the control of the breath, the mind, and the body for the remaining duration of the asana.

Shavasana – Image from Wikipedia

One thought on “The five Vrittis: Pramana, Viparyaya, Vikalpa, Nidra, and Smriti

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