Yoga for Happiness : Atha Yoga Anuśāsanam

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali starts with the Sanskrit shloka:

Atha Yoga Anuśāsanam” – “अथ योगानुशासनम्”

Atha: now, finally
Υοga: union, to join or to integrate
Anu: within or following a tradition
Shasanam: discipline, training, instruction, practice

The shloka very succinctly sets the context for why one needs Yoga, with the very first word – Atha. It states that one’s journey into yoga truly begins only when one has tried everything and failed to find happiness in the outside world. Thus tired of failure, one turns within, and in that very moment Yoga begins. The word Atha could also be translated to mean now. Which means, one can start Yoga at any age. No one is too young or too old for Yoga.

The next two words Anu Shasanam goes on to explain that Yoga is a systematic, step-by-step approach to bring a certain discipline or awareness into one’s life. That’s to say that it’s not a quick fix or a formula but a deep rooted commitment that one has to make to oneself to take responsibility for oneself.

When looked at as a whole, the shloka says that Yoga isn’t merely a philosophical or theoretical tool but a practical science. Therefore, Yoga is for someone who is looking for a practical approach to happiness.

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