In "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali," yoga citta vritti nirodha is the second sutra. It roughly translates to “yoga stops, or stills, the mind's fluctuations.” Those fluctuations, or citta vritti, are limiting, habituated thought patterns – misconceptions that prevent one from seeing the truth about the world and the Self.
According to Patanjali, there are five types of vritti:
- Pramana (correct knowledge)
- Viparyaya (misconception)
- Vikalpa (conceptualization)
- Nidra (sleep)
- Smriti (memory)
The vritti can be painful (klishta) or non-painful (aklishta), but they always affect one's ability to find truth. Joyful thoughts can prevent the individual from reaching a true sense of self just as much as fearful thoughts can.
Yogic training in concentration, attention, breathing exercises and meditation can quiet citta vritti to help the yoga practitioner reach a more peaceful awareness and truer sense of Self.