9.26.2014

{YSP} yoga sutras of patanjali 1.1: the power of now

I was thinking something maybe fun/interesting to do would be a short series of blogs and thoughts about patanjali's yoga sutras. I'm currently in a 500 hour yoga teacher training (I know, I haven't talked about it at all...yet...) and my teacher was saying how we'll mostly focus on the first sixteen sutras - sometimes called the "sweet sixteen" and that eventually she'd like us to have a working explanation/definition of these sixteen sutras. so, like, if someone came up to me and was all, "oh-em-gee- what's this yoga stuff?!" I could hypothetically give an answer based on philosophy instead of just being like, "dude, totes like bending over and putting your foot behind your head and stuff." (clearly, I'm just kidding...I hope it's clear anyway. ha!)

I'm using Edwin Bryant's edition of the sutras for a few reasons. first, I kind of know him. I mean, we're not like chums or anything, but my oldest daughter's (madhavi) father used to rent a room from him and so I kind of got to know him that way - like when I was picking up/dropping her off and stuff. also madhavi and Dr. Bryant's daughter are about the same age and they would play together in the summers. He also hosts (or at least used to - not sure if he still does) a kirtan at his home every so often, and I used to go pretty regularly. I have so many friends who have studied with him (as he is also a professor at Rutgers). He is also a follower in the krishna-bhakti/vaisnava tradition, which makes me feel like his commentaries/interpretations are soundly based in the same tradition that I follow. he also has a british accent. this actually doesn't have anything to do with anything other than it's just kind of cool.

so I thought I would just take it one sutra at a time and just give some thoughts. now, seriously, anyone who knows me knows that I'm the least philosophical person out there - so these are literally just my thoughts. let's not get carried away thinking that I know what I'm talking about or that I even remotely believe that I think that I know something.

now that we have that all straight... let's get to it.


the first sutra reads:

अथ योगानुशासनम्॥१॥
atha yogānuśāsanam

Dr. Bryant's translation is "Now, the teachings of yoga [are presented]." I've also heard this translated as "Now is the time for yoga," which a little bit speaks more to my thoughts on this verse. so I'll kind of jump between notes I took and my thoughts...

- initial verses of any sacred text usually begin by announcing the specific nature of the subject.
- he (patanjali) starts with the word atha, which means "now".  
now... like right now, in this moment, we are going to talk about yoga. not yesterday, not tomorrow. dude, right now. and me, patanjali, I'm about to tell you all about it - yoga - what it is, what it isn't, and how to get it and do it. 
but also, now is the time...because everything in the world is so f'ed up that we need to get down to business immediately... which leads to my note from Dr. Bryant's commentary...

- when we exhaust all else, then we come to this...the highest: yoga.

who was the first person to realize this was the way to go about it?

- when Hranyagarbha wakes up on top of the lotus, he is immediately overwhelmed - so he stills the mind - this is the first practice of yoga (and is a total hint about the definition of the word "yoga"!!)

so patanjali ...

- picks up the scattered pieces (about yoga) from the puranas and herein gives us the essence.
- by using the prefix anu patanjali himself indicates that he (is not the creator) is continuing something (in terms of explaining yoga) that has already been started.

my summary for this verse: there's no better time than right now for yoga. come 'n get it.

1 comment:

Ellen Jonker said...

Very interesting. You are so devoted and inspired.