"Atha yoga anushasanam"
"Now, the teachings of yoga."
The “Yoga Sutra,” is a 2,000-year-old treatise on yogic philosophy by the Indian sage Patanjali. It is a guidebook on how to master your mind, control your emotions, and grow spiritually.
The opening line of Patanjali’s yoga guidebook is easily missed. The first word, “now” (in Sanskrit atha, pronounced ah-tah) is probably there for a good reason. As Osho suggests, Patanjali’s sutras do not contain a single superfluous word! The word “now” appears to be there to get your attention and shows that the teacher has authority: ‘I’m ready to teach’, so you better be ready to listen (!)’.
But atha may also be a subtle reminder to ‘be in the here and now’. We can be certain of the feelings we are experiencing in the here and now. By contrast, we tend to suffer when we think about the past (which we call depression) and we tend to suffer when we think about the future (which we call anxiety). Only our awareness of the here and now can end our suffering. In this way; when you are lost in your psychological needs you feel lonely, but when you transcend your psychological needs you realise that you are merely alone.
Damian Cadman-Jones is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga™