In addition to my blog posts, I am going to start writing a short piece about the yoga sutras nearly every day until they are complete. The intention of this is for myself to become deeper acquainted with this great set of mini-texts put down by Patanjali, and to incorporate these lessons more fully into my teaching and in my daily life. I am going to go in order, and I won’t begin the next sutra until I feel complete with the lesson of the current one I am on.
The reference I am using is Nicolai Bachman’s The Path of the Yoga Sutras. In it, he has exercises to be completed and self-inquiry questions, similar to what my upcoming Empowerment and Achievement Journal has, which will be available on Amazon soon.
There are over 190 sutras, so this could take me less than a year, or it could take me more. The joy is in the journey.
Today’s sutra is Atha.
Atha speaks to me in volumes because it means readiness and commitment. This is an appropriate first sutra because it clearly denotes a beginning, and for me personally it speaks to the commitment I made to myself over a year ago to dramatically change my life in many, many ways. In the last year I have committed to twice daily meditation, self-teaching (relearning, actually) French, a figure competition, a couple CrossFit competitions, and growing my business to manifest wealth in my life. The wealth aspect of my life for me was one of the most challenging because I was brought up being taught poor money habits and was taught disempowering beliefs about money and wealth. Since committing to changing what I believe about my money-making abilities, I have given up the idea that I am not good enough to grow wealth for myself, and have experienced many pleasant and positive changes in my career. I have been doing things I love to do more and more, including adding a second company to the Cheetah Company: Cheetah Grounds. There have been many new beginnings in the last year for me, this new blog post adventure definitely being one of them, and my work has been staying true to these new commitments and seeing their consistent and thorough follow-through.
Bachman writes that atha means “beginning the study of who we are, where we are, and how we make incremental changes to our inner and outer self in order to be less involved with material objects and more in tune with how we feel and how our actions affect those around us.”
Bachman acknowledges in this first sutra how beginnings can be tough, because they denote change from usual routine. One of the most powerful changes I underwent was giving up almost entirely watching TV. Instead I read and meditate or make mala necklaces for meditation. Like Bachman suggests, I have done these things in order to become more in tune with what is really going on in my outer world as well as my inner, and it has been rewarding beyond measure. I have connected with many more people on deeper levels, including my boyfriend’s sister who purchased one of my unicorn malas, because more often than not, I get an opportunity to teach my unicorn mala clients how to use their gorgeous meditation pieces.
I love what Bachman writes about beginnings and the importance of taking our time to “allow information to seep into your core gradually and intentionally.” To me this is beautiful and so representative of life in general because it signifies growth in all ways: from watching a plant grow, to the physical growth of a child, to the growth I am experiencing as a figure competitor later this spring. Learning takes time. Transformation takes time. Building wealth through powerful and impactful companies takes time.
All of this work is about the process, and the charge of our work as human beings is trust. TRUST this process. Begin small and grow with grace and faith.
There is a specific and wonderful energy to being ready and committed. It is an energy of willingness. It speaks of complete lack of resistance, openness, and eagerness to experience flow, opportunity, and possibility.
Patanjali and Bachman both made a wonderful albeit obvious choice to place this sutra as the first sutra. I am open, ready, and willing to learn from this text I have not touched in eight years, and am ready, willing and committed to deepening my spiritual growth through this text and what I can glean from it not only for myself, but for others as well.
Learning anything well requires eagerness, commitment, and perseverance.
With an open mind, I can direct my attention inward and see what unfolds.
I will set aside time for learning and practicing the principles of yoga.
Bachman also includes reflection questions. I answer these in detail in my personal journal. I will summarize here what I wrote in my journal.
“Think of a time when you took on too many topics at the same time. Writing down your thoughts, ask yourself:”
Which projects could have waited?
I took on helping and supporting my boyfriend with the changes to the house while running our Cheetah companies and doing my own personal work, including mala making, personal training, teaching yoga, and writing. Not sure if any could have truly “waited”, but I feel the anxious energy surrounding the work on the house could be more patient and focused.
How did this overextended state affect the quality of your personal life?
I can definitely feel the strain sometimes! Al and I are completing this new-home project together, meaning we are doing much of the work ourselves, especially the painting. It can definitely be tense between the two of us, and requires us to call on our patience when spending so much time together working on the house and creating so many changes in our home.
Think of other areas of study you began, but could not keep up. Write down the reasons why you think they ended. Did something more appealing replace them? Did you give them enough of a chance?
I abandoned relearning French with the house project. I nearly gave up meditating, but I knew that if peace were to reign in our home that could not be cut out of my routine! Part of our challenge is the massive amount of work that must be done, sometimes by deadlines because of workers coming in and out of our house, as well as the work I must complete daily on the computer for our employees and companies as a whole. We had to cut out coffee production temporarily from our routine because we do not have a kitchen until at the earliest the middle of this week.
Completing the house is certainly more appealing at the moment than French lessons on my Duolingo app (which, by the way, I have no one to practice speaking French with at the moment, which is another reason I let it go for now; everyone here speaks Spanish!) because of the chaos that our house is in: our things are in a storage container and our laundry piles in the laundry room because we are redoing our ceilings and floors. So grateful for this chaotic process so that we can create something new on the other side of it!
What commitments have you made in your life that have brought you fulfillment?
There are many commitments I have made that brought me fulfillment. One is choosing to work in the health and fitness field. Helping others help themselves is far more rewarding than I could have imagined. I always thought it wouldn’t be rewarding because I was an athlete for so many years. I thought that in order to feel fulfilled, I had to be helping athletes reach their goals, because theirs was more important than people who wanted to lose weight and live healthy lives. I have learned that that is not true. A goal is a goal is a goal, not matter what it is, and no matter where people are in their lives. All goals are created equal, and to see how personal training, yoga, and meditation helps them so much truly gives me a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, and keeps me returning to the gym to work on my own goals. Truly good clients are inspirations in and of themselves to their trainers. I love that give-and-take aspect of working either one-on-one with clients or feeling the energy of a room when I am teaching a class.