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the only time there is

Now is the time for yoga.

This is the first sutra of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. So obvious; why bother?

The Sanskrit word for “now” is atha, and it doesn’t mean just a slice of time.

Atha is a particular moment, meaning it is perceived; it belongs to an individual. The “now” that is perceived by an individual is rich in context. Each of us arrives at our particular “now” with all the knowledge and skill born of our experience. We bring our hopes and aspirations to guide us.

Atha is a “now” that recognizes that we, the perceivers, are in collaboration with time to make something happen.

While past and future are crucial to how we live and understand our lives, they are imaginary. They only exist in the perceiver’s mind. In the end, now is the only time we have. When we exercise awareness, now is fertile with experience and  illuminated by intention.

We acknowledge and greet this “now”, with respect for its fundamental importance, when we chant the sutra:

Atha yoganusasanam.

Now is the time for yoga.


Experiment: Begin each asana with a brief “atha” (now is the time for downward dog). Begin each activity with a brief “atha” (now is the time for driving home). Does this change your experience of the activity?

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