The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali are full of meaning and over decades of repeated study, deep reflection, and practice each sutra serves as a point of entry into the whole body of yogic knowledge. Book 1, Verse 1 of Patañjali Yoga says “Now the teachings of yoga are being explained.”
Yoga Sūtra 1. 1
This is a humble way to begin the sutras as the information is available when the student is. We cannot reach the goal of yōg (vision of oneness) by mere words alone. Without practice, nothing can be achieved. Ask yourself, why do you want to practice yoga? The clearer you are about your goals and objectives the more likely you will enhance your life, freeing yourself from the cycles of suffering.
Atha means ‘now’ and is an auspicious word along with Om. Both these words are the sound of creation. They mean the beginning and the end of any spiritual teaching. These words invoke a blessing when pronunciated. The word anuśhāsanam is derived from the prefix ‘anu’ meaning ‘within’ and the verb root ‘śhās’ meaning to impart a discipline or a teaching.
Yoga is from the Sanskrit verb ‘yuj’ meaning to join, to yoke or restrain. Yoga is a prescription for liberation from the cycle of suffering. Yoga is samādhi (super-consciousness: That blissful state where the yogi is absorbed into Oneness) and samādhi is an attribute of chitta (mind). Yoga is the science of the mind.
It’s though dedicated practice and study over a long period of time that we begin to uncover, discover and realize the wisdom within the Yoga Sutras. With sincere dedication, you will succeed!
There are many translations. My favorites are The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali, translations and commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda and my other favorite translation is by Baba Hari Dass. There are many more wonderful translations, like The Essential Yoga Sutras by Geshe Michael Roach and Christie McNally, Reflections on the Yoga Sutra-s of Patañjali by TKV Desikachar, The Essence of Yoga, by Bernard Bouanchaud and through Transformation Meditation you can take their Yoga Sutra courses.