Happy 2019! We hope the new year has brought you some fresh perspective and sense of possibility.
As many of you know, we have a custom around the studio of choosing a particular theme for each month. We hope this serves to add some depth and nuance to your practice—and that it offers some ways to bridge the distance between practice-on-the-mat and practice-in-the-world.
Throughout 2019, our monthly themes will fit under the umbrella of a larger one for the year, drawing inspiration from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Let us begin from the beginning.
The first Sutra in the text, the pithy atha yoga anushasanam, translates in English to “now begins the study of yoga.” Upon first reading this, I remember thinking, “uh…is that not obvious? That’s like J.D. Salinger beginning his novel with, ‘okay are you ready? NOW you’re gonna read The Catcher in the Rye!” Let’s just say I had a few things to learn. (Actually, let’s continue to say that I have a few things to learn!)
Thankfully, I was soon enough having conversations about the Sutras that gave me a better handle on this first line. Of course, there’s the interpretation that the only time we can really experience anything is NOW, in the present moment. Memory of the past, or construction of the future, are useful mental tools in tons of ways—but those places are not where experience lives. Experience is a present-tense thing.
Beyond that, though, I have loved the idea that the first sutra gets at the importance of how we begin. An image comes to my mind when I read it: one of runners taking their marks on a racing track. They do it in a particular way, with a specific posture, pre-engaging the muscles that will launch them into takeoff. It is a planned beginning.
As yogis, we do something similar. As you’ll notice, classes tend to begin with some quiet moments of settling, finding the breath and setting an intention. If you’ve ever arrived late to yoga class (who hasn’t?!) and had to jump right into down dog, you may have noticed that it just feels different to start unexpectedly. Not bad, necessarily. But maybe like your body and your brain have to catch up with each other. It can feel a little off-the-beat, like you just started dancing to a song whose rhythm you aren’t quite getting yet.
A Planned Beginning
A planned beginning changes this. It marks space and time with some sacredness. The first conscious exhales invite a letting go of what has come before, so that we might enter our practice as though we are stepping into a clearing in the forest—a space where things become seen, heard and felt differently. It’s quieter. The space holds potential. And we get to step into it.
As the new year begins to ramp up and your days become filled with a thousand things, we hope there will be some moments of quiet–a beginning before the beginning, allowing you to dance gracefully with the rhythm of the day. Thanks for dancing with us!
Much love and thanks for reading,
Erin H/Indi Yoga