Teaching Ashtanga,  Uncategorized,  Yoga Philosophy,  Yoga Sutras

And Now Yoga

Yoga is an internal process. If external drama in the yoga world keeps you off your mat or keeps you from teaching your students, now is the time to question why you ever started practicing or teaching in the first place.

“Atha Yoganusasanam”, the first verse of the Yoga Sutras Sutras means, “And, now, yoga.”

You have lost faith in your teacher….and now yoga.

You have been floored by allegations…and now yoga.

You have been removed from a list…and now yoga.

You feel lost…and now yoga.

You don’t know what your next move should be…and now yoga.

You think there is a chasm in the community…and now yoga.

All of those things that you are confused about and have lost faith in, are not yoga. Yes, we were looking for them to point us to yoga, but they didn’t, so….and now yoga.  Yoga, as defined by Patanjali is “the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind”.

Though people in the yoga world are fluctuating, yoga is not.  Though your views on your teacher may be fluctuating, yoga is not.  Though a list may be fluctuating, yoga is not.

The most important thing we can do in a fluctuating world is connect to what is not fluctuating, the Self, the watcher, the god within. The best thing we can do for our students is to help them to connect to what is not fluctuating. Wallowing in the muck and then taking your students down into the muck with you is not getting either of you closer to samadhi.

Yoga is unaffected by the actions of man. Yoga has existed since the beginning of time but it comes in various forms and under various names. Some people will never practice “yoga” and will find yoga faster then the people who claim they practice it. Why? Because they are not waiting for someone to give them permission. They fall into grace based on their internal work.

No one can stop you from falling into grace and helping others do the same. No one but yourself that is. No one but the mind out of control can stop you from finding yoga. The Yoga Sutras talks about a mind that is one pointed, ekagrata, and a mind that is everywhere focused, sarva-arthata.  You probably guessed it but the one pointed mind is the one that is suited for yoga. The one that is watching what everyone around them is doing and waiting to see what others are going to say and do is not the mind that is fit for yoga.

There is good news though.  You can change that. You can choose at any time to make your practice internal. You can choose at any time to log off of social media and get on your mat.  You can choose to shut down the gossip mill and practice the yamas and niyamas instead.  You can choose to get up in the morning, open up the doors of your shala, and bring peace instead of drama to your students. It is your choice.




Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail shanna@shannasmallyoga.com.