Wednesday, March 27, 2019

GREEN YOGA! Or Environmental Action as a Spiritual Practice by Karen Cairns


View of Kedarnath and Chaukumbh from Guptakashi, India.
Yoga is about balance, about ethics and relationships within the web of life.  All yoga is ecological by nature.  We can look at the Yamas and Niyamas first as relating to ourselves, then expanding these outward to our shala, our community, our region, country, the planet.  Like skimming a stone over the surface of water.

Environmental awareness and action is based upon ahimsa (not harming by actions including ethical issues about purchases and materials), asteya (not using more than my share of resources- as the Quaker saying goes:  Living Simply So That Others May Simply Live), sauca or cleanliness and non-polluting.  
There are many actions we can take to honor these fundamental limbs of yoga.  We need broad action, collective action, voting and protesting when applicable, changing laws and holding corporations accountable…of course.  Individual action is not the complete answer but it is a step we can take:  it is right action.
So…in our shala we can support ourselves and Bhumi Mataji (Jai, Mother Earth!) through many steps.

  • Using candles that are non-polluting and that have less waste.  No tea lights- these are made from fossil fuels and also produce indoor air pollution, increasing respiratory difficulties.
  • No more burning incense inside.  The least polluting I have found are the Japanese ones made without a stick in the middle, but even these have smoke and put particulates in the air we breathe.
  • Buying and using toilet paper that is made from recycled paper with a high post-consumer recycled content.  This has a double benefit:  virgin forests and trees are being cut down for regular toilet paper.  The average person using regular toilet paper is responsible for 384 trees being cut down in their lifetime (NRDC).  When we buy recycled paper products (toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues), we are not only saving trees but we are supporting the market for recycled products, which is extremely important for recycling to work.
  • Using regular, good old-fashioned soap bars instead of soap in plastic bottles.  Research has shown that this is both effective and just as healthy (or more healthy than soaps that are “anti-bacterial”).  This goes for lotions also- if possible buy in glass or buy in bulk by bringing your own glass container.  Many health food stores now have soaps and lotions in bulk.
  • Flowers: best are local and/or homegrown, next would be flowers grown in USA, and worst would be flowers from South America (cheap roses often grown in Colombia and cared for and picked by women and children with much exposure to horrible working conditions and high levels of pesticides).  Many flowers are labeled with country of origin; if not, we can ask where they are from.
  • Cleaning: we want to avoid harmful chemicals, especially bleach.  Most cleaning can be done with white vinegar and water and soap!

Yes, this is somewhat more expensive but so worth it.  Perhaps we can have an Eco-Fund for donations to support these efforts.  Certainly when we donate (bless you, donors!), we can donate with awareness about packaging and products.  Maybe large bags of chocolate that is not in individually wrapped pieces? Oh, have I gone too far?  Okay, baby steps!

Karen Cairns, RN, MPH, EdD  is a member of Yoga East’s Board of Directors, a long-time dedicated Ashtanga practitioner and KPJAYI Authorized teacher.  She received her doctorate in environmental education from the University of Louisville in 2001 and worked at U of L in environmental research and environmental justice.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Madhur Jaffrey's Beet and Tomato Soup

As served at Kentucky Street on June 24.

Bunch of fresh beets
Equal weight of fresh tomatoes
1 tsp ghee
1/2-1 tsp whole cumin seeds (I used a full tsp)
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
4-6 whole cloves
1/2 piece stick cinnamon
1/2-1 tsp salt

Wash the beets and leave about 2 inches of tops on the beets. Not necessary to peel them. Cook the whole beets in water until you can pierce them with a fork.  Remove from water and let cool.
In the beet water, scald the tomatoes and remove from the water. Save the water.  Let the tomatoes cool enough to peel them.
Slip off the beet skins and tops and put the whole beets and the peeled tomatoes in a food processor or blender. Add enough water so that you thoroughly blend them to a soupy consistency.

In a heavy sauce pan or soup pot, heat the ghee until sizzling, but don't scorch it. Add all the spices and lightly saute until fragrant.  Add the beet/tomato mix.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes on low heat. Add salt to taste.  You can add a bit of cream, but I didn't do that.

Strain. Enjoy!

The original recipe can be found in Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking, Alfred A. Knopf, 1981. I made some changes which I think makes it faster and easier to prepare.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Heart of Yoga June 1, 2018

Today we discussed notes I had taken from the first Yoga and Sound I attended at Arsha Vidya Gurukulum in Saylorsburg, PA, with Ramanand Patel, Mukesh Desai, and Pujiya Swami Dayananda Saraswathi. This was September 4, 2002 - September 11, 2002.

Swami D. began by defining terms from the Vedanta tradition. Nishta or sthairya = to abide. Bhava, Bhavana = to have a command of abiding attitudes. Laya = absorption.

Niyama (first limb of Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga) is a lifestyle conducive to accomplishing yoga, living a committed life, a life which leads to a desirable end.

Things to be done - niyama: purity, contentment, austerity, self-study, surrender to Isvara.
Things not to be done- yama: non-harming, non-lying, non-stealing, non-greediness, non-excessivness.

A yogic life is regulated and disciplined.
Tapah, svadhyaya, and isvara-pranidhanah constitute niyama.

Tapah - being totally committed, involved, dedicated. he remarked that in India, waiting is considered tapas. People say, "I've been doing tapas for you for 10 minutes."

Svadhyaya - he recommended studying the Vedas by studying one Upanishad.

Isvara- Pranidhanah - "God" is an abused word. "Isvara" is better. How does one worship Isvara? Pranidhana means "placing oneself".  This is not a matter of "belief" in God; it is a matter of understanding.

There are two ways of knowing: (1) direct perception, (2) indirect perception. Direct perception is seeing with your own eyes. Indirect perception is like reading an x-ray, knowing you have a flat tire by the way the car drives, inferring that you have gasoline from the gas gauge.

Belief: if you have a green light, the cars on the cross street have a red light and they will stop.

Only these two kinds of knowledge - there is no such thing as theoretical knowledge. (for a good discussion of theory, see this short discussion from the American Museum of Natural History).

All that exists is Brahman (Brahman is a word of neutral gender representing the ultimate reality underlying all phenomena).  All that is known or unknown is Brahman.  Isvara is to be understood and known. All knowledge, all karma, all dharma is Isvara. Isvara is the maker and material cause of everything. 


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Living the Light of Yoga

Teacher Training class of December, 2017, from left: Patrick Dineen, Doug van Houten, Trish Barrett, Laura Spaulding, Steven McGuire, Kelsey Swartz, Susan Rudy and Heather Watkins, December 30, 2017.

As one candle lights another, the teachings of Yoga are handed down from teacher to student in an unbroken chain.  This chain is the lineage of yogis which traces itself back to Maja Trigg, to Sharath, Saraswathi, Pattabhi Jois, Krishnamacharya, Shankaracharya, to 1000 BC to Matsyendranath, then back even farther to the first yogi - who is nameless - and whom we call Shiva - the One who is bright, shining and auspicious.  Tonight we welcome our graduates into that lineage, our lineage. When you become a member of our lineage, the power and the knowledge of the lineage flows through you.

It is a knowledge tradition - because very simply yoga is the knowledge of how to live in this world fearlessly, enthusiastically, joyfully, contentedly, in complete fulfillment of what it is to be a human being, to have this human life.

In the yoga tradition we offer prayers to our teachers, other yoga practitioners who  walked this path before us and who show us the way. Our prayers are prayers of gratitude and acknowledgment of what we have received.

One of my favorite is this one which Patabhis Jois used to say softly at the end of the Ashtanga mantra:

Om namo brahmavidbhyo brahmavidya-sampradaya-kartrbhyo
namo vamsarshibhyo mahadbhyo namo gurudbhyo
sarvopaplava-rahita-prajnana-ghana-pratyagartho brahmaivaham-asmi
Om tat sat

Salutations to the Infinite Being and Truth;
Salutations to the Knowers of that Infinity and
to the Ones who perform actions for the benefit of all beings;
Salutations to the rishis - they who have seen the Truth,
Salutations to the great ones who inspire us,
Salutations to my teachers - due to my association with them,
I identify with that infinite Truth and I know the truth
- that I am free from all limitations and problems.

We are guided by our great tradition of teachers and their teachings.
Very often the texts are so old we don’t know who wrote them or when they were written. Another reason is that the texts were usually anonymous or attributed to the author’s teacher.  In the past, no one took personal credit for yoga because it’s not the individual teacher who is important - it’s the teachings themselves which are important. 

Approximately 2500 years ago, Patanjali wrote The Yoga Sutras, 212 aphorisms that outline what was known about yoga at that time.  2500 years ago yoga was already a well-established tradition and body of knowledge.  No one knows how old it was even back at the time of Patanjali.  In the original commentary to the Yoga Sutras, Vyasa, the commentator says, “Yoga eva upadyayah:” “Yoga is itself the teacher.”

Yoga is owned by no one, and belongs to everyone.

Commencement - a word which means, to begin. Here we mark the end of teacher training and the start of a lifetime journey of exploration into the vast realm of yogic knowledge and practice.  This is a time to pause to reflect and ask ourselves about the past: What mistakes did I make? What did I learn? What inspired me?  If things occurred that were negative or unpleasant, offer those into the fire of understanding and dissolve the habitual thought patterns that created mis-understanding.  All of that is now in the past.  You are free from it.  Go forward. This is a rebirth into a new life.

Your being here on this planet, living this life, is a matter of your conscious choice. It’s not an accident or a mistake.  Recognize this life as a choice you have made. Summon forth all the power of your inner courage and live the life of your dreams. 

Courage means you live a life which is a blessing to others, rising to meet the demands of any situation. Step forward and be the light.

This is the way of yoga.

These new teachers will carry on this great tradition which has uplifted so many people.

[Remarks by Laura to the graduating class.]

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Winter Squash Soup

This recipe is originally from Martha Rose Shulman and got many comments on the NY Times Cooking Page.  Very high in Vitamin A, and a good way to use winter squash, onions, garlic and ginger from your Barr Farms CSA.

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons oil or ghee
1 medium onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 Tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
3 Teaspoons mustard seeds (I used black but you can also use yellow)
2 Teaspoons cumin (I used whole but you can also use powder)
.5 Teaspoon Turmeric powder

1 medium winter squash ( I used a butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1" cubes)
1 Cup Red lentils or Toor Dal

Tarka:
2 Teaspoons ghee
assorted spices to taste, such as: cumin, coriander, curry powder

Heat 2 Tablespoons ghee or oil and saute onion, garlic and first group of spices. Add cubed squash, lentils or dal and 6 cups of water.  I did this in a pressure cooker and cooked it until the rocker rocked for 3 minutes, then let it cool until the pressure dropped.  You can also do this in a regular large sauce pan. Cook until lentils/dal and squash are tender. Use a hand blender to puree.

Tarka - heat 2 Teaspoons ghee in a small saute pan and add the spices until browned and fragrant. Add Tarka to the soup.  Add salt to taste.

You can also add chopped cilantro, grated (unsweetened) coconut for a South Indian touch, kale, spinach, red peppers, carrots, etc...

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Power of Yoga and Meditation and Recovery from Addiction by Allison Longino

Opiate addiction in Kentucky and the United States:

In the United States, opioids, both prescription and illicit, are consistently responsible for more overdose deaths than any other substance. According to a Center for Disease Control study from 2015, which is the last year that information is available, opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths. This number has continued to increase, quadrupling since 1999. The state of Kentucky having one of the highest rates of overdose death in the country; sitting at 29.9 per 100,000 people in 2015.1

Kentucky also boasts an extremely high rate of prescription opioid usage. In 2012, doctors in the state of Kentucky issued nearly 3 times the amount of prescriptions for opioids per person than the lowest prescribing states. Additionally, as many as 1 in 4 people who are prescribed opioids for general, noncancer related pain in primary care settings struggles with addiction.1 These are startling numbers, to say the least. To put it simply, this information illustrates that there is a large number of people in both my home state and across the country who are experiencing great physical and mental pain. Great pain that can be relieved by something other than prescription or illicit substances. Great pain that can, in part, be healed by the power of yoga and meditation.

How yoga and meditation benefits those suffering from addiction:

I was inspired to research the benefits of yoga and meditation for people in recovery by a very close friend of mine. I interviewed him at length about his experience in both addiction and sobriety. I have chosen to not include his name out of great respect for his privacy and the privacy of his peers.
I began by asking him when and why he started using. His addiction began at the age of fourteen. He explained that he, and many of his now sober peers, began using to combat mental anguish; to stop ever present destructive thoughts of inadequacy and an inability to live up to both parental and personal expectations. It began with alcohol and marijuana at parties, quickly snowballed to cocaine and prescription pain pills, and eventually led to heroin.

Fifteen years later, he is now in recovery with nearly 3 years of sobriety under his belt. He is also a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, a 12-step recovery program, attending three to four meetings per week. In the last year, he discovered and began practicing mindfulness meditation, initially encouraged by his AA sponsor. When asked why he began practicing meditation, he replied, “I'd tried to get sober twice before this most recent stretch. This is the longest I've been sober since I was fourteen years old. The first two times I was in AA, I never paid any attention to the spirituality part. Just ignored it. I realized that's why I couldn't get it right the first two times. I had to do something different. Without meditation, I'm just waking up everyday doing whatever I feel like doing. That's the part of me that makes bad decisions. That's the part of me that shoots dope. It helps with the anger I feel. With the scattered thoughts. The emotions I couldn't control in the past. It helps me slow down and be present. For the first time in my life, I know what it feels like to be present and in control of my mind.” He went on to say that while AA has been one of the biggest tools in his toolbox of sobriety, there is something in the message of running away from the cravings and temptation of his disease that never quite resonated with him. He knew that he needed to learn to accept the temptation to use as it came and to not let his affliction define him.

We went on to discuss principles of mindfulness meditation and principles of the practice of yoga. The eight limbs of yoga versus the eight fold path of Buddhism. We found that while they have their differences, they share very similar tenets. Perhaps one of the most important similarities being, at least for the subject of this paper, “I am not my thoughts.” My friend and I discovered a new level of connection in our companionship. The belief that we are not our thoughts encouraged the both of us separately to dive deeper into our journeys. His journey in sobriety and spirituality and my own journey in the study and practice of yoga.
I then asked my friend what kind of physical changes his body went through after becoming sober. He explained that like most addicts, he had to get used to feeling pain again. He also stated that he gained a significant amount of weight and had trouble feeling comfortable in his body for at least the first year of sobriety. Jennifer Dewey, the fitness director at the Betty Ford Center, a rehabilitation center in Mirage, California states, “Addiction takes a person out of their body and prevents them from connecting to who they are physically and feeling what their body is telling them. Yoga is a great way to slowly reintroduce someone to physical sensation. It’s also very relaxing, so in terms of the anxiety, stress, and depression that arise from detox, it’s invaluable in helping people stay calm and grounded.”2 The practice of yoga can also be exceptionally helpful to recovering addicts who may have suffered irreparable physical damage from their addiction. Both chair yoga and gentle yoga can be practiced by students with severe physical limitations and is offered at many studios worldwide.

The Science Behind It:

Unfortunately, there isn't currently a wealth of studies dedicated to the effects of yoga and meditation on the mind and body of the addict specifically, but we can make correlations based on the physiological and psychological effects of yoga on the mind and body generally speaking. It has been proven that practicing yoga even as little as a couple times per week increases muscle strength and flexibility as well as improving cardiovascular and respiratory function. Studies have also shown that yoga increases internal awareness and people who practice yoga regularly are more satisfied and less critical of their bodies.4 There are a number of postures proven to reduce blood pressure and help cure digestive disorders. BKS Iyengar, one of the great teachers of our time and the first yogi to photograph the asanas (postures), lists a number of physical and mental ailments and the postures to cure them in an index in his renowned book, Light on Yoga.
Some studies have been published on the effects of various techniques of meditation on the human brain. In a 2012 study, researchers compared brain images from 50 adults who meditate and 50 adults who don’t meditate. Results suggested that people who practiced meditation for many years have more folds in the outer layer of the brain. This process (called gyrification) may increase the brain’s ability to process information.5 Studies have also shown that people who meditate regularly show signs of reduced anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Again, one can devise that regularly practiced meditation could be beneficial to those suffering from these maladies and others, such as substance addiction.

Annalisa Cunningham is a yoga teacher who hasn't personally suffered the affliction of addiction, but lived with addicts for most of her life. She authored a book entitled Healing Addiction with Yoga: A Yoga Program for People in 12-Step Recovery. Included in the book is a sequence of yoga postures with attached affirmations and journaling prompts designed to benefit those suffering from addiction. Many of the affirmations and postures are based on forgiveness and acceptance, stressing an importance on seeking inner peace and not perfecting the postures themselves.

The benefits of yoga and meditation on the human body are infinite, much like the practices themselves. The struggle lies in bringing it to the people who have little opportunity to be exposed to its power.
Barriers between recovering addicts and the practice of yoga and meditation:

While yoga and meditation is more accessible than ever before, there is still a stigma surrounding these practices in the Western world. All one has to do is hop on a social networking site, type “yoga” into the search bar, and thousands of photos of fit men and women in handstands and backbends are at your fingertips. People plastering quotes from Buddha and Osho over photos of forests and waterfalls. Internet gurus sharing their wisdom with anyone who will listen. There is a wealth of information out there, not all of it legitimate, and it can be intimidating to sift through. Where does one even start?
From the outside looking in, it appears that yoga and meditation is for a certain type of person. A healthy person. A wealthy person. Not to mention that at the vast majority of studios and meditation centers, it costs money. For a person in recovery, who does not have the best relationship with their body or mind especially in the beginning stages of sobriety, or who may be financially bereft, that can be an intimidating thing to approach. Many recovering addicts feel that they are undeserving of such practices. They may be still suffering from the painful thoughts or physical sensations that led them to using in the first place. Luckily, there are some dedicated yogis and yoginis out there sharing their own stories of addiction and recovery with the general public and creating spaces for people with similar experiences to enter into the infinite world of yoga and meditation.

Taylor Hunt is an authorized Ashtanga yoga teacher located in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio also happens to be one of the states with the highest percentage of opiate abuse and death in the country. Last year, he published a memoir titled A Way From Darkness. In this book, Mr. Hunt bravely shares his story of addiction and recovery. A path that eventually led him to the healing practice of Ashtanga yoga, initially at the encouragement of his sponsor. It also tells the story of his founding of The Trini Foundation,3 a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing the power of Ashtanga to rehabilitation centers, halfway houses, and even prisons. The foundation also provides scholarships at studios around the country (as far as Juneau, Alaska!) to students in recovery from addiction as well as students who may be financially disadvantaged. There are a number of other programs sponsored by The Trini Foundation including yoga in at risk communities and delinquent youth prevention programs, partnerships with wellness professionals such as therapists and nutritionists, and mentorship programs for teachers looking to aid these various populations. Very recently, Sharath Jois, Director of the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore, India accepted an honorary director position at the foundation. This is a huge step for The Trini Foundation, marking great progress in providing help to the many communities full of people who may never be introduced to the magic of yoga otherwise.

With programs such as The Trini Foundation in place, yoga and meditation is reaching more people in need than in previous years. It is up to us as healthy practitioners and teachers to continue to practice this kind of seva (acts of service) in our own communities; to bring the power of yoga and meditation to the people who need it most. The 12th step of the Alcoholics Anonymous program instructs, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” It doesn't seem so different from many yogic traditions and systems in which the student continues to grow and learn by becoming the teacher. While great strides have been made, we are needed. Perhaps, more than ever.

Yoga Sequence for Students Recovering from Addiction by Annalisa Cunningham

Virasana or variation of Virasana
Affirmation: Serenity comes when I surrender

Balasana or variation of Balasana
Affirmation: I rest in trust and patience

Paschimottonasana or variation of Paschimottonasana
Affirmation: I move forward with patience

Baddha Konasana or variation of Baddha Konasana
Affirmation: My spirit is gentle.

Viparita Karani or variation of Viparita Karani
Affirmation: As I relax, I gain insight, clarity, and ease.

Apanasana
Affirmation: I hold myself with compassion

Jathara Parivartanasana
Affirmation: Everywhere I turn, I see beauty.

Savasana
Affirmation: I allow myself to relax completely and surrender to my Higher Power.

Bibliography:
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/statedeaths.html

Yoga for Addiction Recovery – Yoga Journal
http://www.yogajournal.com/article/practice-
section/higher-ground/

The Trini Foundation
http://www.trinifoundation.org/

4 Yoga – Benefits Beyond the Mat
http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/yoga-benefits-beyond-the-mat

5 Meditation – In Depth | National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm

Allison began her yoga experience in 2004 as a dance major at the Youth Performing Arts school here in Louisville, KY. She started practicing Hatha yoga at Yoga East in 2014, fell in love with the studio and teachers, and has been practicing here ever since. She enjoys practicing Ashtanga yoga and hanging out upside down on the rope wall at the Kentucky Street studio. She has studied with Laura Spaulding, Susan Reid, and David Garrigues, and looks forward to continuing her studies in the years to come.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Importance of Sanskrit Commentary


Browse the Yoga section of a bookstore or books online, and there are hundreds of thousands of contemporary books on yoga and more are being written everyday.  As Joseph Ater observed in his book, Yoga in Modern India, "many writers write as if they are the only person writing on the subject with any authority, and what they are saying is new.  Yet if there is one single thing that characterizes the literature on yoga, it is repetition and redundancy in the guise of novelty and independent invention." Joseph Ater, 2004. (Yoga in Modern India, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press.)  Referring to this body of writing as "pulp nonfiction", Ater says, "Yogic pulp nonfiction can be defined as texts that put forth the idea that you can teach yourself yoga by reading a book, even if one of the lessons is that you should stop reading and go and find a guru."

Before there were yoga classes available and before I found a teacher, books were the only guides I had for yoga practice.  At first, very few books were available. I found The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga by Swami Vishnudevananda at a yard sale around 1972.  Around the same time, a friend gave me Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahamsa Yogananda .  After returning from a trip to India in 1986, I found The Sivananda Companion by Lucy Liddel and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, translated by Georg Feuerstein at a bookstore in Washington, D.C.  When I first moved to Louisville in 1990, the local bookstore, Hawley-Cooke (now gone), had only four or five yoga books, and they were all by Osho (Baghwan Shree Rajneesh), which did not interest me. At Spirit Mountain Bookstore (also now out of business), I found Swami Sivananda's magnum opus on yoga practice, Sadhana. In a magazine, I found an order form for Geeta Iyengar's Yoga - a Gem for Women and her father's book, Light on Yoga.  

Through Siddha Yoga I became acquainted with the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism and had access to important texts like The Shiva Sutras, The Vijnana Bhairava, and the Spanda Karikas, translated by Jaideva Singh.  In studying these texts, I began to understand the importance of commentary in the Sanskrit tradition.

These days, thousands of books on yoga are being published and self-published everyday.  Anybody can write a book, or go on the internet and write a blog (like this one).  However, are those writings reliable and helpful to our understanding of the topic under discussion?  Scientific, medical and other scholarly articles are published in peer-reviewed journals where the content of the writings and their methods of research and analysis are examined and reviewed.  This is also the case in Sanskrit scholarship.  Otherwise, how can one know if the author is writing with authority?  It's helpful to understand the tradition of commentary on yoga texts because it helps us to think objectively and critically about yoga philosophy, practice and theory.

At Yoga East we have spent many hours reading and discussing The Yoga Sutras.  For these discussions I recommend that students bring a translation that has both a bhasya and a vritti.  There are many versions of the Sutras out there. Some are authoritative, some are not, and some are misleading or incorrect.  How do we know?  This is why it's useful to know something about the tradition of commentary.

The information below is drawn from "Sanskrit Philosophical Commentary", by Jonardon Ganeri, http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pollock/sks/papers/Ganeri(commentary).pdf.  Go read this article. 

Sutra- a short formula-like assertion, such as the statements in the Yoga Sutras and Shiva Sutras. Because sutras are extremely short, pithy words or phrases, a commentary is necessary to flesh out the meaning of the sutra. Commentary is helpful if written by someone who a knowledgeable authority on the text and its tradition.

Karika - similar to a sutra, karikas are short sutra-like statements that comprise a simple skeleton-like text.

Bhasya - is a commentary on a sutra whose function is to unpack the meaning of the sutra and weave it together with other sutras in the text. A bhasya gives a statement of the topic, raises a doubt or question, gives opposing views, gives a statement of the decided view with reasoning, and gives the purpose served by the discussion.

Varttika - is a subcommentary on a bhasya defending the commentary's particular construction or interpretation of the sutra over alternative constructions, making revisions and adjustments as necessary to clarify the meaning.

Nibandha is a commentarial work which cntinues the process of revision and adjustment until a state of equilibrium is reached. James Mallinson says, "a traditional Sanskrit nibandha ...gathers together a wide variety of texts on a single topic." (James Mallinson and Mark Singleton, Roots of Yoga, 2107, Penguin Books).

Vrtti, vivrtti or vivarana - commentary that gives the meanings of individual words, analyzes grammatical compounds, construes meanings of words and sentence construction.

Gudharta - uncovers deeper or hidden meanings.

Subodnini - companion or aid to understanding.

Pariksa or vicara - investigation or examination.

Pradipa, prakasha, dipa - clarification (shedding light upon the topic).

Bibliography
Ater, Joseph. Yoga in Modern India, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 2004.
Ganeri, Jonardon. http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pollock/sks/papers/Ganeri(commentary).pdf. accessed 1/20/2017.
Mallinson, James and Mark Singleton. Roots of Yoga. UK: Penguin, 2017.

Suggestion for Further Study

Clark, Bernie. "How to Critically Analyze Yoga Articles", Elephant Journal, Nov. 22, 2013.