In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a 2,000-year-old text outlining the philosophies of yoga, the first sutra states in Sanskrit “Atha Yoganushasanam.” As with all of the yoga sutras, there are many different translations:
“Now the exposition of yoga is being made.”
“Now begins the study of yoga.”
“With humility, an open heart and mind, we embrace the study of yoga.”
“Now having done prior preparations though life and other practices, the study of yoga begins.”
And here, my all-time favorite:
“Now we begin again.”
Such a small sutra can be easily overlooked; but in the simplicity, there is a grand idea:
Yoga as a beginning, an entrance into now. But how can we practice this both on and off of our mats?
Yoga, and the eight-limbed path of yoga, is a beautiful way to study the cycles of life. We move through our lives learning where we can, gaining experience and understanding, and each time we revisit “old” ideas or lessons that we have learned, we see them in a new way. Yoga helps us to embrace our growth by looking at right where we are.
On our yoga mats, we bow to these cycles. We arrive on the mat in stillness, eyes closed, then we explore and strengthen our ability, and finally we bow with respect to all endings and take our symbolic final rest in savasana. We rise from our mats new, stepping into the world awash in the glow of the present moment, reconnected to the rhythms around and within us.
This focus on the NOW is apparent in this first small sutra, now we begin our study, now is where the practice happens.
It sets our intention to be where we are. This sutra can be a beautiful mantra, in any translation, as a tool for protecting the mind from harmful or negative thought patterns. Our yoga practice is never-ending, and the practice itself is the goal, but on our journey we can encounter frustration, disappointment, and other feelings that make us question the path we are on or even our ability to walk it. This is where we can remember Atha Yoganushasanam, start anew right from where you are and keep practicing. As it says in the Yoga Sutras, “without practice, nothing can be achieved.”
Each time I pick up the yoga sutras or step on to my mat, if I keep my mind and heart open and ready, those moments are new beginnings, chances to learn something differently or start again. We are constantly changing, even down at a cellular level. You can never be in the same yoga pose twice, you can never breathe the same breath twice, and yoga teaches us to be present for the pose, the breath, that we are in now; creating space for observation rather than just reaction. Each breath, each moment, is a new start.
Want to learn more about the Sutras and how they can be a guide in your life? Join Aubrey and Shauna on Sunday May 6th for Sutras for the Soul Workshop 1:00-3. http://www.shristudios.com/workshops
Aubrey received her 200 Hour Yoga Certification in March 2016 in Longmont, CO. Her goal as a yoga teacher is to help students learn the wonders of their own body and being, nurturing courage and self love. Besides yoga, Aubrey loves to ride dual sport motorcycles, read poetry and literature, scribble in journals and notebooks, and continually tries to draw inspiration from the natural world.
Come and Practice with Aubrey at Shri Studios.
Tuesdays 9:30 am -10:30 Deepen Flow
Thursdays 6:00 pm -7:00 Deepen Flow & Fridays 9:00 am – 10:00 Gentle Yoga