By Nikita Kirpalani, 200 hour yoga teacher training summer student
This is the very first word on the very first page of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. It refers to the now. The present. This exact instant in time.
Growing up, the present always seemed like a foreign and unattainable concept to me. As a dreamer and a thinker, I have always indulged in nostalgia and anticipation, reminiscing on the past and envisioning the future, and in doing so, never fully experiencing the present moment. Yet this very abstract idea of atha is what I have come to value most about my yoga practice.
Over the last six years, my life has been in constant motion. I have lived in three different countries each year, have switched career paths a couple of times, and have hired moving vans more times than I can count. While all this change has been extremely stimulating and exciting, it was definitely something I struggled with in the beginning. My mind was always somewhere else and my tendency to reminisce and dream slowly devolved into a habit of worry and anxiety. I was in a perpetual state of clutter and disorientation.
Although I had been superficially practicing yoga on and off for a few years, I found myself spending an increasing amount of time within the confines of the four corners of my mat. Amidst the noise and chaos, it provided a sense of familiarity and comfort. It proved to be one of the few constants in my life across multiple borders, time zones, and language barriers. With time, I found that on my mat and, eventually, in my daily life, I was more present. Yoga allowed me to let go. To be still. To be here. Now.
When I came across the 200 hour Zuna Yoga Teacher Training, it seemed like the natural progression of my personal journey. To be on a gorgeous island, away from everyone and everything I have ever known, I won’t be able to be anywhere but in the moment. With my start date right around the corner, I am finally allowing myself to indulge in the eager anticipation. And with it, the questions. What will it be like? Am I prepared? Who will I meet? What are their stories? Will I be able to keep up with the course plan? With the other trainees? With myself?
I will just have to wait and see, one moment at a time.
And so begins my practice of yoga. Atha yoga anushasanam.