Yoga Sutra 1.1

atha yoganusasanam

"Now the complete teachings for contemplative harmony"

The yoga sutras are one of the major texts of the practice and theory of yoga. Compiled by the scholar Patanjali around 500-400 CE, the yoga sutras are comprised by four chapters and 196 sutras (“threads”) in Sanskrit. At the time there were no written records (books), knowledge was passed on verbally from teacher to student. The yoga sutras manifest the first attempt to organize knowledge about yoga; they can be understood as a step-by-step instruction towards freedom.

Let’s start at the very beginning, sutra 1.1:

atha yoganusasanam – “Now the complete teachings for contemplative harmony”⠀

Breaking this sutra down a bit:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • atha – “now”- the state in which one exists at present; there is something in this present state that creates an opening/a readiness for one to be receptive to the teachings of yoga; the student is ready to receive the teachings of yoga. In a sense one is seeking for a new perspective to resolve non-harmonious patterns. “Atha” thus signifies an auspicious time for a new beginning.
  • yoga – samadhi, contemplative union in harmony
  • anu – complete, whole, inclusive of the most subtlest aspect
  • sasanam – teaching, instruction ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

May this study of yoga be auspicious for all of us! Soon I will post about sutra 1.2 here.

Keep in mind: Yoga is foremost an experiential practice. The benefits of yoga cannot be acquired by reading a book about it. Your body will embrace an somatic understanding of the philosophy by regularly engaging with the practice of yoga. But sure, a little reference and theory can be useful. ⠀


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