Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Sthira sukham asanam.

Yoga Sutra 2.46 

This aphorism is often translated as, stable (sthira) comfortable (sukham) posture (asanam). It tells us that a yoga posture is intended to express the balance between effort and ease.

Sthira means stable. Stability takes effort.

Sukham means comfortable. A feeling of ease.

Asanam means seat. Posture or presence.

Whenever you practice yoga you're trying to find a balance between these aspects. We like to say, “feel the stretch, without the strain.” Let’s consider what it feels like to cultivate these two qualities of sthira and sukha in our asana practice. Sthira is the ability to be steady in body, mind, and breath. The muscles are engaged, the mind notices what is arising, and the breath is rhythmic. Sukha is the comfort that comes when the joints and bones are aligned and the muscles are free from tension or strain, the mind is spacious and aware, and the breath flows with ease.

We can balance effort and ease in our daily lives through routine. Sthira and sukha flow from establishing a routine. Waking up, eating, and going to bed at approximately the same time each day all contribute to steadiness and comfort. Life is relationships. We are in a constant relationship with our environment and the people around us. How might your relationships change if you consciously cultivated being present, steady, and comfortable? 

I love this quote by Judith Hanson, "Yoga is not about touching your toes, its about what you learn on the way down." Therefore, the point of the practice of yoga is not to achieve certain postures, but to learn to move through our lives with steadiness and comfort. Cultivating sthira suham asanam helps us find a balance between effort and ease. It is a process that extends beyond the edge of our yoga mat, it takes us into every aspect of our daily lives and this is what yoga is all about!

Our story this month; I find balance between effort and ease. We practiced balancing poses, of course! Here are couple you might like to try.

Reclining Vishnu Pose

Begin by lying on your back, roll over onto your right side and bend the right arm bringing the hand to support your head, fingers reaching towards the spine. Your entire right side from elbow to heel is in a straight line. Bend the left knee and place the foot in front of the body, take hold of the big toe with your left hand. Straighten and lift the leg towards the sky for your comfort level.  Keep the feet flexed. Balance without rolling. Balance comes from your center.  Release the toe hold and gently come onto your back. Repeat on the opposite side then rest on your back for a few breaths.

You can modify this pose by looping a strap around the foot before lifting the leg. For wrist or shoulder issues you can place your forearm on the floor and align your elbow under the shoulder. Spread your fingers wide. 

Dancer Pose

Begin in mountain, feet hip distance apart, bend the right leg bringing the foot towards the backside, the knee should be pointing toward the floor, hold the foot, ankle or the big toe with the right hand and balance, now lift and stretch the leg behind you as you gently lean forward, lift the left hand reaching out in front. Gaze just past your hand. Release and repeat on the other side.

Happiness and health,

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