Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 1.1

1.1 Now the Teachings of Yoga are Presented.

So begins the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in a fairly innocuous fashion. It’s easy to assume that Patanjali is simply saying, “So we begin.” Many scholars and practitioners have pointed out, though, that Patanjali was not one to waste time or mince words and this sutra is potentially also exhorting us to practice NOW; not later on or tomorrow or when we have time for a retreat. Every moment is fresh and an opportunity to focus on the breath, a mantra, being present or opening up an experience that we normally close down around.

There is no such thing as a repeatable moment in the realm of our subjective experience. If we’re not paying attention or giving life to this moment than, sure, every breath feels and seems exactly like the last. Our close friends are exactly as they were the day before. Our jobs are exactly as they were last year and will continue in like fashion through the years. Everything is taken for granted because it seems like everything is exactly as it was from before. But if we decide to practice right here and now, we get to transform the mundane and habitual into something new and undiscovered. We have no idea what the next moment will bring! But if we’re not paying attention, we’re sure not to find out. Likewise, if we do not give energy to our practice in this moment, we will not reap it’s benefits in the next. Practice is slow and steady and we can only feel it’s benefits by a slow and steady effort over time. If we start now, we will be sure to begin to experience the rewards down the line.

When we make the decision to practice right here and now you may feel resistance, a sense of futility, like trying to pull yourself out of bed at 4 in the morning. This is natural. The mind is happy in it’s habitual world, even if it’s not that exciting or meaningful. We need to make that tiny, gentle push to start and begin anew in each moment.