Before Buddhism and before formal Hatha Yoga, Patanjali, presents this guide of consciousness. Perhaps it is based on early Vedic texts, but it is based on his direct experience also. 1800 years later Hartranft, presents this new translation that somehow breathes new life into the 196 aphorisms.
His translation seeks to find a fluid way of expressing a line in English. In his commentary he explains some of the Sanskrit terms. He avoids going too deep into later Hatha Yoga, and avoids the highly philosophical discussion. Patanjali's aphorisms are about the "practice"; "Yogic activity has three components; discipline, self-study, and orientation toward the ideal of pure awareness".
"Focusing with perfect discipline on the heart," Patanjali observes in one of the 196 sutras collected here, "one understands the nature of consciousness" (pp. 53; 197). Written in Sanskrit nearly two thousand years ago, THE YOGA SUTRA OF PATANJALI addresses the central concerns of our existence: how we know what we know, why we suffer, and how we can experience happier, more meaningful lives through spiritual practice (pp. ix; 75). Based on his own experience integrating yoga with Buddhist practice, and through his fresh translation and insights into Patanjali's notoriously esoteric text, Chip Hartranft succeeds in showing us how these ancient sutras are relevant to modern spiritual practice. Of the translations of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras I've read, including translations by Iyengar (1993), Prasada (1988), and Swami Prabhavananda's HOW TO KNOW GOD (136)--all of which are excellent, because of its commentary, Hartranft's translation was the most rewarding.