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“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

In my last blog post, ‘What Is Yoga Anyway?’ I expressed my excitement and joy over starting my next intensive yoga teacher’s training.  What I didn’t mention is that I’ve been considering this training for years, and for years have not felt ready.  I have been managing other areas of my life that needed attention, or just haven’t felt like I’ve had the time, resources or maturity to undertake an in-depth study such as this.

I believe that readiness is paramount to the start of a spiritual or personal growth journey.  When I first started teaching yoga I would urge everyone around me to come and try it.  Within a short time I realized that they would come to yoga only when they were ready.  There is little benefit to the journey if the first step is not taken from free-will and genuine interest.

Paul Dallaghan, who writes on the path of yogic study, urges us to be able to commit wholeheartedly to it. “Take responsibility,” he says. “Take ownership of yourself and your life. Seek sage advice. Learn and experience by practice, by doing. Commitment means readiness, with appropriate action and responsibility.  First, step in with both feet. What is to be learned and experienced is beyond your current level of understanding. You have to strike a balance between putting up the effort and letting it happen.  You have to be ready.”

So am I now ready? In the past I’ve felt the urgency to find a teacher and become a disciple of sorts in a way that felt almost desperate and came from a place of feeling lost and not enough.  In retrospect, I am grateful that for one reason or another I never found that teacher, and had to slog through those times by myself, learning to right myself on my own two feet.  Only now I come to this study with much more wisdom and stability.  Only now I am ready.

To begin this study of yoga, I start at the beginning; the first Yoga Sutra brought to us by the sage Patanjali and translated by hundreds of different scholars:

Sutra 1.1 Atha Yoga Anushasanam is simply translated as “Now, the teachings of yoga” or “Now begins the scientific discipline of yoga.”

Since I’m pondering readiness, this translation speaks more directly to me:

“Now you have reached a stage in your development as an awakening eternal being where you are ready to learn the mystic practice of Yoga.” The teacher Atma says that, according Patañjali, you are ready simply because you are seeking.  Atma translates Sutra 1.1 as “Now you have reached a stage in your development as an awakening eternal being where you are ready to learn the mystic practice of Yoga”

Paul Dallaghan explains the sutra by stating, “a teacher will communicate the valuable lessons of yoga to you, at the right time, if you are prepared and committed. Also important is that you have maturity and a strong sense of responsibility. To succeed in the study of yoga, you must embrace the subject matter with every cell of your being.”  He warns us that “on a psychological level, too, you will need preparation, because the path to self-discovery is one with many hurdles.”

To be truly ready to overcome these hurdles along my spiritual path, I must have both feet on the ground, an open heart and a healthy dose of humility.  I can only hope that these foundational pieces are in place for me.  Nischala Joy Devi, in her fresh take on the Sutras from a woman’s perspective, translates Sutra 1.1 as “With humility (an open heart and mind) we embrace the sacred study of yoga.”  When the spiritual path is paved with humility we are better able to serve God and others.  Not only must we be ready to commit wholeheartedly the study of yoga, we must also be ready to bow humbly to the feet of our teachers and recognize the divine in all around us. Now, I am ready.