Atha yoganusasanam. These words form the beginning of the Yoga Sutras, the principle text of classical yoga. And now, they mark the beginning of this blog. Welcome!
The simplest translation of atha yoganusasanum reads, “Now, the exposition of yoga.” However, the Sanskrit language is imbued with layered meaning and nuance. Perhaps B.K.S. Iyengar’s translation better captures the spirit of the sutra: “With prayers for divine blessings, now begins an exposition of the sacred art of yoga.”
No matter how we chose to translate the passage, one thing is clear—the exposition of yoga happens NOW. The Yoga Sutras don’t mince words. The prominence of now is not an accident.
Are you familiar with the sonnet that begins, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”? That’s how I often feel about yoga. It's a gift that keeps on giving! As I learn more about it, I also find myself counting the ways in which yoga can be defined. Often cited as the root word of “to yoke,” yoga means to join together. Yoga is the union of our awareness and all that it contains.
Another way of understanding this is to define yoga as what happens when we pay attention right now. What happens when we allow our awareness to swell and grow so as to embrace the fullness of the present moment? Yoga.
As we navigate the forthcoming winter holidays, let’s continually root our awareness into the fertile soil of the present moment. While we may wrap up presents and tie them with ribbon, let's remember that the greatest gift we offer our loved ones (and ourselves) is the fullness of our embodied presence. The Sanskrit word atha means both “now” and “a blessing.” To truly see and be seen is the ultimate blessing.
It happens now. Come back to it again and again, and you will always find yourself there.