One of my earliest memories of the Yoga Sutras is of reading it in a bus full of people I didn’t know well. It was in 2005, I think and the book I was reading was my first copy of Light on the Yoga Sutras. Prior to that, I had read a very esoteric book which had rearranged the sutras. As I type, I think I should check that book once again.
About 20 years since being exposed to the Yoga Sutras but it is only now that I feel a readiness, an eligibility perhaps to really study it. It took me a long while to get prepared and the journey to the ‘atha‘ has been a meandering one. As I sit with the sutras, the deeper concepts within each as opened by commentators of yore begin to find a semblance of a seat, an asana if you please. And access to a brilliant library means that I get to play with exploring even more. Sometimes I wonder why the thirst to know? I suppose the clue to that answer lies in savasana as of now. It lies in the prelude to entering the doorway of prana.
The slow route to this point had many stages, phases right from the vague attempt to memorise the sutras to reading multiple commentaries to listening to talks and thinking about what I understood at various points in time. As I’ve often mentioned on this blog and elsewhere, my favourite Sutra is 1.33 but like a draw towards the first chapter in the Bhagavad Gita, the very first sutra is also one I find myself circling very often.
Pithy, direct with an enormous context and yet it is accessible to every kind of practitioner. Besides the Vyasa Bhashya point of view which colours a lot of the commentaries, there is a more immediate entry into the world of the sutras. Something one of the teachers had mentioned in one of the classes stayed with me. She’d mentioned that Guruji had said that there could be no discipline without freedom. And that stayed.
Freedom is both the necessary prerequisite as well as the ultimate goal. So, in a sense it mimics the whole gamut of human seeking. How can one embark upon a journey of the self without discipline and how can that inner drive come without freedom to choose a path? No amount of force or compulsion can maintain such an endeavour although it may be used to commence. Anusasanam is an exercise of free will because it is now, the only point in space and time where we have true agency. What is past is gone, what is yet to come is not quite in our control but the present is ever present. And all that one needs in the now is bringing all of our being to being.
How elegant! How relevant to every era, every individual!
2 thoughts on “1.1 Atha Yoganusasanam”
This is a wonderful, and accessible post, which I appreciate since I don’t have to filter through layers of self-doubt (do I even have enough baseline knowledge to speak up?) to enter in to the conversation. For me, I find it most satisfying when I see a debutant become enamored with yoga (as a college teacher I see this fairly often) and start the study of yoga. Just yesterday, one of my youngsters asked a question about the Warrior postures that reflected his deep yearning to continue on his yoga journey. All I can do is open a door. The practitioner/student has to take that endless walk.
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So beautiful… encompasses so much… carries the feeling of your journey… With all its beautiful learning and of your youthful, curious, ever learning, ever present now…
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