Now the practice of Yoga | Reflections on Patanjali's Yoga Sutra 1.1

atha yoganusasanam

With prayers for divine blessings, now begins an exposition of the sacred art of yoga.

Now follows a detailed exposition of the discipline of yoga, given step by step in the right order, and with proper direction for self-alignment

The first stanza of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, opens us to the present moment to moment awareness. Atha, translating to now, grabs our attention and at once and invites us down a path to experience the art of integration, union, deep meditation, or concentration of the Supreme spirit

If we breakdown the sanskrit:

Atha can mean now, auspicious, a prayer, a blessing, and also a good omen. I find the two meanings of now and prayer being used here. When we look at what is happening in the practice of prayer, we are speaking to God, and listening to the spirit/soul. We are engaging in an act that requires being fully absorbed in the present moment. The single pointed concentration on the prayer. This also calls upon and assumes the deep desire, longing, and motivation of the aspirant/seeker.

Yoga, translates to a joining, union, junction, combination, application, use, means, result, deep meditation, concentration, concentration of the Supreme Spirit

And anusasanam meaning advice, direction

Yoga is at once considered to be a subjective art, science, and philosophy that is the experience of the seer—the true Self.

Patanjali offers a guide for the aspirant/seeker to find a path back inwards toward the soul. With each sutra, a simple, concise, sharp piece of wisdom to contemplate and hold within our awareness.

B.K.S Iyengar’s commentary on this sutra explains that ‘the disciplines of integration are here expounded through experience, and are given to humanity for the exploration and recognition of that hidden part of man which is beyond the awareness of the senses.’

This is deep…basically saying that these tools/practices/techniques are meant for the aspirant/yogi/practitioner seeking to connect/find oneness/see the soul/know the Self through personal experience. It is an invitation to take a look and see for yourSelf.