10 Oct Sthira Sukha Asanam!
The “Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” verse 2.46 Sthira Sukha Asanam translates into a Steady and Gentle Seat or Pose. Most if not all of the yoga sutras can be translated onto our off the mat experiences, our day to day activities also. Which is why it is a staple reading and philosophy for all those on the path of yoga. Many of my regular students often here me point this verse out “invite the Sthira Sukha in this pose”! I love it because it simply explains all that we are suppose to do and feel in just those 2 sanksrit words. In every asana the body has to be toned and the mind tuned in so that we can stay longer with a firm body and a serene mind.
Sthira: Steady, Strong, Powerful, Firm, Compact.. etymologically it arises from the root stha, which means “to stand, to be firm and established”. So in a yoga class we find this in our foundation of the asana (pose). Then we keep it firm and steady holding onto the pose with courage, containing the body breath mind for a certain period of time or breaths. Sthira in the spine helps us with pranayama, meditation and more commonly in the asanas. Have the muscles engaged in equanimity free from any tension or strain, give the breath good rhythm and let the mind continue to be one pointed with patience and vigilant, despite what drama may play out in the mind. Asanas should be performed without creating any aggressiveness in the body and mind. Off the mat Sthira can be provoked by our posture whilst sitting at our desk or at home on the sofa. Perhaps even whilst we wait for our commute. This is all Sthira at its best.
Sukha: Gentle, Soft, Delight, Happiness…. Etymologically “Su” stands for good, well being and happiness. Performance in our asanas should be nourishing and illuminative. Running swiftly and easily. Discipline and focus must be given to each pose. Patanjali demands the highest quality of attention to perfection in all that we do. So for Sukha to exist in our asana experience, we must soften the pysche, be in a blissful attitude and in a good space whilst sustaining that particular asana. Even the ones we do not like to do. Penetrate the meditation deep into every remote part of the body (fibres, cells, joints and muscles) all whilst keeping the foundation of the pose, the Sthira pleasant and manageable. Sukha reminds us to be in a playful state of consciousness, a child like nature but with an adult or mature sense. Off the mat give Sukha to all that you do.. your cooking, your social activities, to your spouse and children… really.. to everything off the mat. Be kind, joyous, gracious, sensitive, loving and meditative in all areas of your life. Create space in your skin, your attitude towards your life and space in your heart to love all beings.
Asana for the week: Tittibhasana and Kurmasana
Lets play out our Sthira Sukha Asanam in the arm balance of Flying insect Tittibhasana and the forward fold Tortoise Kurmasana. For both of these asanas to be productive, we will need to open up the hamstrings, the back body and the arms for the arm balance of firefly.
Both require the knees to rest high above the upper arms. Bhujapidasana (shoulder pressing pose) is the modification for Tittibhasana and for Kurmasana no binding of the arms.. you can have the hands holding the outside of the feet below the little toes, knees wildly bent for a more relaxed version.
Mantra for the week: Moola Mantra
Full mantra lyrics is the mantra section of this website. Also this you tube link will help you explore this beautiful chant further.