Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 1

अथ योगानुशासनम् ॥१॥

atha yoga-anu-śāsanam ||1||

Now follow the teachings of Yoga.

atha - now, 'now' (begins); an auspicious and inceptive particle; A particle used at the beginning (of works) mostly as a sign of auspiciousnessyoga - the act of yoking, joining, attaching, harnessing; a yoke, team, vehicle, conveyance; employment, use, application, performance; a means, expedient, device, way, manner, methodanu - follow, one after another, followingśāsana - teachings; doctrine; instruction, discipline; teaching, instructing, an instructor

Commentaries and Reflections

Commentary by T Krishnamacharya:

“The study of Yoga is a vast undertaking that requires sustained effort and guidance. The term Atha signifies auspicious beginning, uninterrupted continuity, and an appropriate end.
Another aspect of Atha is Saṃkalpa, which in Vedic tradition is the decision to initiate something important and to ensure that it is completed at any cost, without distraction or deviation.
Yoga is a Saṃskāra, a process that prepares us to realize the things we wish to achieve at various moments in life.
For instance, when children approach school age parents must prepare them to make the adjustment from being at home to being with other children and teachers. This cannot be done suddenly, some orientation is necessary. This is a Saṃskāra.”

“Yoga is a Saṃskāra in that it equips us to realize our greatest potential. If we wish, it can prepare us for and lead us to the beatitude of the divine presence.”

“Yoga is AnuŚāsana Śastra. It is experiential, not speculative, it is ancient, with its origin in the Veda. Sages followed the Vedic teachings and transmitted their experience to their students.
The students, in turn, learned and experienced the teachings in their own lives, and thus became competent to teach.
In this way the lineage of Yoga teachers is established.”

“One of the most notable sages in this lineage, Patañjali, respecting Vedic tradition and blessed with proximity to the Lord, presented this teaching in the form of the Yoga Sūtra, enabling succeeding generations of Yoga teachers and students to transmit their own experiences in a systematic and structured way.
It is because of this that every aspirant of Yoga pays homage and respect to Ānanta, the spirit of Patañjali, before proceeding with Yoga Saṃskāra.”

“The Saṃskāra of Yoga prepares a person for Ātma Vidyā and is open to everyone.”

Yogavalli divides this first chapter into two sections:
the first is made up of 1.1 to 1.22;
and the second begins with 1.23
and goes to the end of the chapter.
It is the latter section that describes
what can be achieved in the present age.”

Commentary by TKV Desikachar:

Atha – Now in the sense of nowness.
By convention let there be something auspicious.
The Sūtra are different in the sense of not having a prayer dedication in the first Sūtra.
Thus Atha fills this role.
Particularly the letter ‘A’ which is a dedication.

“Of sounds I am the first letter A.”
Bhagavad Gītā Chapter Ten verse 33

Now I am going to tell you something about Yoga.
A serious discussion as you, the students, are ready.
This also refers to the student’s previous attempts at learning, which will now be clarified.”

“A student might have tried to study problems of the mind to try to bring an understanding of equilibrium.
The teacher says ‘now I will teach you’.
The first Sūtra also acts as a key for the memory to link all the Yoga Sūtra.
So no confusion with the Brahma Sūtra, etc.”

AnuŚāsanam – Śāsanam text of authority.
Thus it was in the past and is continuous
and will be there in the future.
It is not new and will always be valid.
No reference is made to it being an inquiry into Yoga.
On the contrary it is given as an absolute teaching.
Emphasis is given to the use and choice of words.
They are placed and given in context very carefully.
Thus the meaning is very clear.
However the Sūtra require a great teacher to explain and give comments.
This presumes a great knowledge of Saṃskṛta as well.
The beauty of the Sūtra is that they are only related to the mind.
Thus they stand above various religions
and can be studied and related to by all types of persons
from all types of religions.”

Commentary by Paul Harvey:

what follows are the teachings of Yoga.”

you follow the teachings of Yoga.”

you follow what follows,
the teachings of Yoga.”

“In Sūtra 1.1 what does the word Atha symbolise for you
in relation to your moment-to-moment choices?”

Inspirational Quote

“Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year. It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow. Today is the seed time, now are the hours of work, and tomorrow comes the harvest and the playtime.” WEB Du Bois