Atha, the first sutra in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, is a bold and empowering sanskrit word that represents the here and the now. This word opens up the sutras in a way that allows you to feel like you are about to begin a transformational process, and in order to fully understand, one must be ready to commit themselves to the path and practice of yoga. It asks the questions: Are you truly ready? Are you willing to practice this everyday for the rest of your life? Are you willing to study and discipline yourself around the scientific approach of finding your true nature? Like I said its a bold word because its a bold idea. The idea to begin a life long journey into the self by starting with the only place a journey can truly begin: the present moment... the Now.
I stepped onto a yoga mat, in a crowded yoga studio, early in college around 8 years ago. My practice then was much more of a social way to stretch and work out with my peers. Growing up as a competitive gymnast, the physical aspects of yoga were very similar to the stretches and postures I had been doing since I was 5 years old. I used yoga to help relax and stretch out my worn gymnast body, but didn't really get much further into it than that. I researched into the philosophy a bit back then, but didn't understand the true scope of what yoga could be for me in my life.
My true yogic journey began at the beginning of this year. My personal journey into yoga, is nothing dramatic; like stories you hear about people hitting rock bottom and them describing how yoga helped them climb out and restore their purpose in this life and the world ... (which it definitely has the power to do so if you are ever in that place). For me, I was in a decent place honestly. I was surrounded by people that I love and care for, had a decent job, lived in a great home, and was seemingly happy. However, I knew something was missing. I kept having this longing feeling in myself that I needed a change. I felt like my life was focused around a center point that didn't have any forward momentum. I was revolving but I wasn't evolving. I was at the quarter of a century mark in my life and I still felt like I hadn't learned the kinds of lessons I knew I was destined to learn.
I listened to my intuition, I responded, and I took action. I signed up for a teacher training here in my hometown of Austin. It was during this 8 week intensive course that I really began studying the ancient, scientific discipline of yoga and meditation. It wasn't too long after fully diving into this practice that I began to see a small flicker of light and got a glimpse of how this practice was beginning to shine down on my existence. My amazing teachers at Nadi Yogi Austin helped me realize what yoga is at its core. They helped me realize that the hype of yoga in the media is just what western society likes to do to anything that potentially has capital gains. They also helped me see what yoga is not. They showed us that its not what you necessarily see on Instagram. Its not what you remember from that crowded studio 8 years ago. It's not about how strong you are or how flexible you are in relation to others. It is simply about the now. It's about what you see in the now. It's about how you feel in the now. It's about what you hear and taste and move and do in the now. It's the mindful practice that you work at every day to help bring you back to the now. It's nothing more or nothing less.
My work at understanding how to exist in the now, in a world where we are always striving for something in the future or clinging on to something in the past, had just begun. It was hard work to say the least. The kind of mental work no one really wants to do. The work where you dig up those skeletons in the closet, and you face the big elephant in the room. The work that is honest and true and raw through and through. Its the work of letting go. It's the work of trying to free your self from the all of the walls we have built up around us that separates us from our true selves. The work of peeling away all of the labels and divisions that inhibits us to consciously and mindfully connect with other living beings. The work every person needs to try and do to understand what true happiness is. There are individuals on this planet who have been studying and practicing this type of work for years and years, and they will be the first ones to tell you that it never really gets easier... it just becomes your norm. It's what gets you out of bed in the morning and it's what eases you into sleep every night. Its the foundation you can always come back to and it will always accept you back with no judgement. I am so thankful to have found this path and I humbly look forward to where it might lead.