Yoga sutra 2.19
The three qualities of nature (guṇa) exist in different combinations
Here, Patanjali introduces terms and concepts well known to the Samkhya yoga tradition: the many layers and different combinations of the three guna-s (parvāṇi) in the field of observation (the world as you perceive it).
The deepest level is beyond perception and beyond time, before the world’s creation (aliṅgāni);
Then comes the first stage of evolution of the three guna-s, the beginnings of identity (liṅga-mātra);
As the three guna-s increase in density, the next step is a world belonging to feelings, that is a dimension of feelings and individual perspective (aviśeṣa);
And the last plane of manifestation is the objective external world (viśeṣa).
Thus above, Patanjali describes the different stages of nature – from the grossest or most obvious to the most subtle or unseeable. Awareness, which is one of yoga’s goals, allows you to understand the relationship between all these stages. You can trace the nature of your being from your current surroundings back all the way to the seeds that initiated the evolution of life.
Damian Cadman-Jones is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga™