In an effort to deepen my practice I am beginning again, at the beginning. I am taking a journey through the yoga sutras, and I hope you’ll join me.
We begin with Yoga Sutra 1:1
“Atha yoga anusasanam.”
This is the opening verse of the Yoga Sutras, a collection of 196 Indian sutras (aphorisms) that form the foundation of the philosophy of yoga. The Yoga Sutras were written by the Indian sage Patanjali around 400 CE, and they provide a systematic approach to the practice of yoga, including physical postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation.
The opening verse of the Yoga Sutras, “Atha yoga anusasanam,” can be translated as “Now, the instruction on yoga begins.” This verse serves as an introduction and sets the stage for the teachings that follow. It is a call to action, inviting the reader to engage with the practice of yoga and to seek the wisdom and insights that it has to offer.
Yoga Sutra 1:1 also holds deeper philosophical significance. The word “atha” can be translated as “now,” but it also carries the connotation of “beginning.” This suggests that the study and practice of yoga is a new beginning, a fresh start, and an opportunity to cultivate new habits and patterns of thought.
The word “anusasanam,” or “instruction,” can also be translated as “command” or “direction,” implying that the Yoga Sutras provide a roadmap for living a meaningful and fulfilling life. The instruction offered in the Yoga Sutras is not just a set of abstract ideas, but a practical guide for how to live in a way that aligns with our highest potential.
In this way, Yoga Sutra 1:1 serves as a call to self-examination and self-improvement. It invites us to look inward and to consider the ways in which we can better align our thoughts, words, and actions with our values and goals. It reminds us that the journey of yoga is a continual process of growth and development, and that each moment is an opportunity to start anew.
Overall, Yoga Sutra 1:1 encourages us to embrace the present moment and to take the first steps on the path of self-discovery and self-improvement through the practice of yoga. It reminds us that the time is always right to begin this journey and that the teachings of yoga are a valuable guide on the path towards a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
As we journey through the Yoga Sutras I encourage you to meditate on the verses, and take some time to journal.
Begin by finding a comfortable seated position and closing your eyes. Take a few deep breaths, allowing yourself to relax and let go of any distractions..
Bring your awareness to the present moment, to now, meditate on the words “Atha yoga anusasanam.” “Now begins the instruction of Yoga.” Let these words sink in and resonate with you. What does “now” mean to you? What does it mean to “begin”? What does instruction mean to you? And how do you feel about these things?
As you repeat the words to yourself, allow them to serve as a reminder that now the time is right for the study and practice of yoga. Imagine yourself taking the first steps on this journey, filled with curiosity and an open mind.
Allow yourself to let go of any preconceived notions or expectations about yoga and simply be present with the teachings that are being offered.
As you continue to repeat the words, invite a sense of readiness and willingness to engage with the practice of yoga. Imagine yourself as a student, eager to learn and grow.
Take a few more deep breaths and when you’re ready, slowly open your eyes. Remember that the instruction on yoga begins now, and you are ready and willing to embark on this journey.
Above all remember this journey is your journey. A journey of self discovery. You are embarking on the journey to your authentic self, and it begins now. This is yoga!