Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Chapter 1.Verse 1
atha – now, auspiciousness, a prayer, a blessing, benediction
yoga – joining, bringing together of the left and the right, front and the back, top and bottom, body and mind, inner and outer, self and other, self and creation
ausaśāsanam – instructions, guidelines, discipline
With prayers for divine blessings, now begins an exposition of the sacred art of yoga.
Translation by B.K.S. Iyengar
As I get older, I find myself more and more waking up before the alarm goes off or before I intended to wake up. And while for the most part I force myself back to sleep for another hour, recently one morning I awoke asking myself, “Since I am up, why don’t I just get up and meditate?”
For however long that choice never appeared. There was just going back to sleep. Then one day a choice becomes visible. A fork in the road that was always there suddenly comes into view. This awareness of choice, the awareness of ‘What if I didn’t do what I have always done? What if right now I choose something different?” for me this is atha. The immediate now in which the blessed window to choice opens, this is where Yoga begins.
There is a staying asleep that is associated with staying in bed. But there is also the sleeplike state we operate in when we are awake, robotically functioning from habit; when without inquiry we remain in our favorite narrative of “I can’t”, a narrative of self-doubt, of having been wronged, of ‘the world is out to get me’, etc. Rather than remaining unconscious in our past narratives, when we awaken to an awareness of choice in the now, Yoga begins. With every ‘What if I let go of fear?’, ‘What if I forgive?’, ‘What if I drop the anger?’, Yoga begins.
Now can easily be an unconscious extension of the past. Or in the awareness of choice, we recover the now of conscious movement, of Yoga.