“There is a moment just before the sun rises where everything is still with anticipation.”
And now, the practice of yoga begins.
By Travis Kā’eo
There is a moment just before the sun rises where everything is still with anticipation. It was this stillness I remember most about June 2, 2017 – the stillness, and the thunderous realization that reverberated from it. I couldn’t begin to describe the feeling I experienced and perhaps it was never meant to be put into the context of words, but I knew I had to share it.
Patanjali, the sage who wrote the Yoga Sutra, begins his teachings with this aphorism – atha yogānuśāsanam. This sutra translates to, “and now, the practice of yoga begins”. To understand any sutra, it is important to understand what a sutra is.
In Sanskrit, the word sutra means “thread,” on which beads are placed. In learning the Yoga Sutra, we all are given the same thread, yet when we place the beads of our understanding upon this thread, the final product or wisdom is different for each individual. Therein lies the beauty of the Yoga Sutra. These aphorisms were never intended to be analyzed literally, in fact, after the Yoga Sutra was devised by Patanjali, somewhere between 2000 BC and 300 AD, the teachings were passed down orally. In order for teachers to remember all 196 sutras, the original verses Patanjali wrote were compressed – words were omitted, and only the skeleton, or thread, remained. Each teacher was then to use the sutra as spark to ignite their memory of their understanding – in turn, placing their beads upon the thread and making it their wisdom.
When we look at the first thread Patajali offer, we see three words. In Sanskrit the word atha means “now”, yoga means “union” and anuśāsanam means “instruction”. Literally translated, this sutra means “Now, the instruction on yoga”. However, in dealing with a piece of text that has been compressed it is important to note the intention rather than the transliteration. In the beginning of many classical Vedic texts, a prayer is first offered to the reader or student. Although after the Vedic period, Patanjali (and many teachers around Patanjali’s time) began their texts with the same intention. In knowing this, we can elaborate on this sutra.
Yoga is the union of the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness. On a micro scale, it is the union of perceived differences to the point where nothing is different – nothing exists outside of the Self. This very word alone deserves a lifetime of contemplation or practice. Through this human experience yoga becomes just that – a practice of incremental success. Moments where union and truth and stillness ring true. This moment is the very one that I found myself in the morning of June 2, 2017 – for the first time in my life, I was completely present. This brings us to our next and most important word, atha.
Atha means now, or present. It is no mistake that Patanjali starts the entire Yoga Sutra with this word. For it is the first vibration the student would hear and in turn, have no choice but to be present upon hearing these syllables. Yet, perhaps even more important is what it means for this verse. This verse is a prayer to begin the practice of yoga and this word explains when that practice takes place.
There is power in this moment. Power we often bypass with thoughts of the past or future, yet in this first sutra, Patanjali directs us to the only place yoga truly exists – in the present.
Our journey started many morning ago in stillness that isn’t often experienced. Yet, were it has brought us, this moment, is beyond our wildest dreams.
It is our pleasure to announce the launch of The Source Yoga + Wellness: Premium.
atha yogānuśāsanam – and now, the practice of yoga begins. Go forth, with presence and light.
Travis grew up in the small village of Kailua on the island of ‘Oahu, Hawai’i where, in his early years, he discovered the benefits of an active lifestyle. Travis loved to play sports, be in the ocean, and hike. For many years Travis carried on with his active lifestyle until, during his time as a collegiate athlete, he was injured. For the first time he was forced to slow down.
Soon after, Travis found yoga and from that first class he knew it was something he was going to do for the rest of his life. Now you can find Travis at a coffee shop reading up on yoga philosophy to share with his students. He loves when students internalize their practice and hopes to offer just that to all members of The Source Yoga + Wellness.