'Now, the practice of yoga begins'
At the start of a new term I thought it would be interesting to reflect on this phrase. It's at the beginning of a very old yoga textbook. It’s a phrase that’s stuck with me since I started my training about 20 years’ ago.
It sounds like a meaningless ‘once upon a time…’ introduction, doesn’t it? But it isn’t.
For me it means the practice of yoga begins NOW. The present moment is an important part of yoga practice. It's the awareness of how things are from moment to moment. Not how you want them to be, not how you remember them from another time, but how they actually are right now.
atha yoga anushasanam
‘Now, the practice of yoga begins’
You don’t have to wait for the perfect moment to begin. You don’t need to wait till you’re thin, till you’re flexible, till you have the perfect leggings or a swanky mat. You don’t need to wait till you feel calmer, more relaxed, happier or quieter. There’s no need to wait until you have an hour or two to spare, or until everywhere is quiet and still.
You have an opportunity to do little bit of yoga now, in this moment.
Stop. Pause. Notice.
Tune into what’s happening now.
Acknowledge to yourself…
What can you hear?
What am I touching?
What do you see?
What can you smell?
How do you feel?
Notice your breathing… notice the quality of your breathing. Notice where your body moves when you breathe… and maybe… just maybe, for one breath you let go a little bit more into your exhale and let it smoothly run out longer, like a sigh.
Maybe you notice a place that feels less comfortable and for one moment you choose to give it more space. Maybe you stretch and release. Maybe you turn your awareness to somewhere that feels okay. It’s easy to take those places for granted so you might say a silent ‘thank you’ to acknowledge how well they’re working for you now.
No need for a mat. Or to change your clothes. No need for everything to be perfect.
Yoga by being here, in this moment, as it is.
Be here now.