April 2004 – YS II:46 Sthira-Sukham Asanam

YS II:46 STHIRA-SUKHAM ASANAM

Patanjali, an ancient sage who wrote the Sutras over 5000 years ago.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is the oldest textbook of the Yoga school. It is four chapters of approx. 200 verses teaching us how to attain Yoga (union with our Divine Nature).

1. Chapter 1 deals with the nature and aims of Samadhi.

2. Chapter 2 deals with Kriya Yoga and explains the means of attaining Samadhi. (Kriya Yoga is Tapa-svadhyaya-Ishvara-pranidhanani = Discipline (training of the senses for self discipline and purificaion), Self Study, Surrender to God.

3. The third chapter gives an account of supernatural powers that can be attained through Yoga practice and Samadhi.

4. The fourth chapter deals with psychological analysis and the nature of liberation through samadhi.

YS II:46 STHIRA-SUKHAM ASANAM
Sthira: stead, stable
Sukham: easy, firm, and pleasant
Asanam: posture

Posture is that which is steady, stable, and firm as well as easy and pleasant.

In our practice this means we seek for the balance between effort and ease.
We compliment the qualities of engagement with letting go. We find a balance between tension and relaxation, a balance between effort and ease that feels delicious and challenging at the same time. Sthira and sukha form a state of equilibrium (satva) that is without agitation (rajas) or inertia (tamas).
It is attention without tension.
Most students will need to emphasize one or another of these qualities, depending their personality type. Over-achievers need reminders to relax and enjoy the experience. Those who tend to be lethargic or half-hearted need encouragement to work at their edge. Those who lack focus need reminders to stay present. Students with limitations need support in creating modifications and working at a gentle level that’s still challenging.
Yoga does not impose a form upon us, but allows us to discover our Self through a form. In life, asana firmly settles us because of these two complementary qualities: firmness in directing our actions and softness in expressing them.

Off the mat I have learned to apply Sthira Sukham to many areas of my life. Firmness in rules and discipline with my daughter, softness in how I impose them on her. Firmness in my direction and goals, softness to flow with natural occurrence of life. Firmness in how I run my business, softness because my business is dealing with people and that requires compassion and understanding. Firmness in keeping with a busy schedule, softness to allow myself time to “rest and digest”.

And in our relationships as we work to blend gentleness with firmness, it is especially important in our relationships to create harmony instead of tearing and destroying.
When we have to communicate an unpleasant feeling it is important to remember the root word of sarcasm:
“sarcazo” A Greek word meaning to tear flesh.
It is important to share our feelings with those close to us so remember this little saying:
Say what you Mean
Mean what you say
And don’t say it Mean.

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