Yoga Sutra 1.1

 In Yoga Sutras

Yoga Sutra 1.1: अथ योगानुशासनम्  

 Atha yogā ʻnuśāsanaṃ   

(ah-tah yow-gah anoosh-ah-sah-nam)


“Now, the teachings of Yoga” 


Yoga Sutra 1.1 draws our full awareness and mental energy to the task at hand: exploring the multi-faceted practice of Yoga. We are reminded to pay close attention to the sanctity of the teachings we are about to receive and not to let our attention run astray. This very first Yoga Sutra is already presenting the Yoga practice to us in a very subtle way!  

Before you were focusing on the Yoga Sutras your mind may have been focused or distracted elsewhere. Just by reading this first Sutra you are preparing yourself for the practice of Yoga.

An Evolving State of Self Awareness

Who you are now and how you see yourself are surely different expressions of who you were in your past and how you saw yourself in the past. We gain experience as we move through life and that experience gives us the opportunity to shed a new light on the way we understand ourselves, the people around us, the way the world functions and the wild (often confusing) ride of life. 

Now is your opportunity.  Now is your time to receive the teachings of Yoga that you are ready for. You might not be ready for all the ideas held in the Sutras at this point in your life. So pay close attention to the Sutras that do stand out to you. Study those sutras and as time progresses notice how your life experiences shift your understanding of yoga philosophy.  You may notice that each time you open the Sutras you are slightly changed and that new Sutras may stand out to you the same way a flower stands out to a bee. The Sutras will nourish your mind the same way in which the flower nurtures the bee. 

This Sutra is also a reminder that we should not hesitate and wait for the future.  Your time is here, in this very moment.

Swami Satchitananda Saraswati poetically translates this phrase as “Now an exposition on Yoga” meaning that the full or whole of Yoga is about to be taught.


Etymology Yoga Sutra 1.1


It is always important to have some understanding of the etymology of Sanskrit words to get deeper into each word’s complex meaning.  Furthermore, the Yoga Sutras represent a wonderful example of brevity in that each word is thought to be used very specifically. This can cause the meaning of the same word to feel different in a different sentence. 


  • Atha

    – Now, The Present


  • Yogā

    – Union with Spirit (from the Sanskrit root word Yūg – to yoke to ox together)

To better understand the definition of the word Yoga we can explore terminology given to us in Yoga Philosophy but may be very familiar for people from many cultures and faiths:

  • Atma  आत्मा

    Individual Spirit or Soul of each individual being

  • Brahma ब्रह्म

    Universal Spirit or Pure Consciousness

    • From the Sanskrit root Bṛḥ meaning ‘expanded’, or ‘great’
    • Different then the deity Brahman of the Trimurti

In our Yoga Practice we are working towards revealing our Atma – individual Spirit and thereby feeling the connection to the collective/universal Brahma – Universal Consciousness

  • Anuśāsanaṃ

    – The Teachings, Instructions or Discipline


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