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This week: moving with Steadiness and Ease

I wanted to share a little more about the theme we worked with last week.

This post is an edited version of the following article.

Move through life with steadiness (sthira) and ease (sukha) through yoga. Shira and Sukha are two Sanskrit terms from the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali: Sthira-sukham asanam is Sutra 2.46, This aphorism translates to “posture (asana) [should be] stable (sthira) and comfortable (sukha),” or “resolutely abide in a good space.” When we infuse our life with sthira and sukha, we pave the way for balance and insight. Sthira, means “firm, compact, strong, steadfast, static, resolute, and courageous”; it arises from the root stha, which means “to stand, to be firm, to take a stand.”

Sukha means “happy, good, joyful, delightful, easy, agreeable, gentle, mild, and virtuous.” The literal meaning is “good space,” from the root words su (good) and kha (space).

The term originally described the kind of smooth ride one experiences in a cart or a chariot whose axle holes were well centred in the wheels. This image implies that the production of sukha is a dynamic process. The last word, asana, stems from the root as, “the act of sitting down, abiding, dwelling, inhabiting, being present.” The emphasis here is being grounded in and committed to whatever you are doing when you are doing it.

Sthira is the ability to “hold steady” in an asana, to hold body, energy, and mind in balance for an extended period. This capacity is known as asana sthiti, which can be translated as either “dwelling in an asana” or “steadfastness in an asana.” True asana sthiti arises when the muscles are evenly engaged and free of tension and strain; when the cadence of the breath becomes rhythmic; and when the mind becomes patient and vigilant, observing whatever arises from moment to moment. Sukha, or “good space,” in asana practice is the comfort that arises when the joints and bones are harmoniously aligned with gravity and when the muscles are free of strain.

At the energetic level, sukha manifests as an easy flow of breath and balanced circulation of prana (life force). Mentally, this “good space” manifests as a meditative quality of joy, satisfaction, and spacious awareness. Hold in mind an idea of “positive inertia,” where sthira and sukha work together to create ab enduring state of equipoise in all levels of being.

Think of your asana practice as a kind of cradle in which you devote your full energy and attention to nourishing your innermost self. Carrying that quality with you through the rest of your day, in the midst of whatever comes your way, is the key to bringing yoga off the mat and into your life. Resolutely abiding in “good space” is the foundation for fruitful meditation practice and the key to a rewarding and spiritually fulfilling life. The cornerstones are laid by how you shape your days, how and what you eat, and the quality of your relationships.

I love the addition of these elements to yoga, and life, let me know what shows up if you invite steadiness and ease into life.

See you in class


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