"STHIRA SUKHAM ASANA": STABLE AND COMFORTABLE ON AND OFF THE MAT
Yoga asanas are only one of the eight limbs of yoga, a series of stages in the yoga practice leading to the ultimate goal of yoga: the state of oneness or union called “Samadhi”. Though, many of us have discovered yoga through the practice of asanas, hence why it is important to understand what an Asana is and what we should focus on when practising Asanas.
“Sthira Sukham Asana” is one of the 196 Sutras or aphorisms, written by Patanjali and containing the knowledge of Yoga, a practical guide to live our lives under the yogic principles with the aim of living better and happier. This Sutra is considered one of the most important if not the most important sutra as it describes clearly what an asana or yoga pose is and how we can perfect the practice of yoga asanas. (Read my post "Meditation on the yoga Sutras: Yoga Chita Vritti Nirodha" if want to know about other important Yoga Sutra)
In Sanskrit, “Sthira” means stable, steady or grounded, “Sukham” means comfortable and “Asana” means pose, posture or seat. The sentence “Sthira Sukham Asana” summarises the purpose of every asana, which is to find a state where we feel grounded and connected to earth which gives us stability and where we are at ease, comfortable enough that the pose becomes effortless. Only when this happens we are performing an Asana.
As we go through our practice, we aim to find stability with a good foundation while releasing tension and surrendering our body. Taking the focus away from the aches and pains and accepting the pose as it is, to be able to hold the posture without effort.
If you are thinking “it is not easy” wait to read what I am about to tell you next...
Yoga is to be lived on and off the yoga mat. We practice these asanas as a preparation to our lives. When practising asanas, as well as when meditating, we create a challenge for the body with deep stretches and holding postures and we require the body to remain “stable” and “comfortable”. If we are able to experience and achieve this at a physical level, we will be able to do so at a mental level. That’s how yoga works, that is the absolute benefit of Yoga.
So when life gets tricky, when we experience difficult and uncomfortable situations, when we are under pressure or things go out of control, how do you react? Yoga tells us to remain “stable” and to be “comfortable”: Sthira & Sukham. Being comfortable with the uncomfortable, with the unknown, with things not being exactly as we wanted them to be. Being able to release the control and surrender to the situation and to life as it is.
Easy? Of course is not, but it is possible.
For me, the key is in two words: Acceptance and Trust. Developing a strong belief that there is a plan for our lives, that everything is unfolding exactly as it is meant to be and that, no matter what, we will be fine. It is about surrendering to life and releasing the control, because… guess what? We have never had the control of anything, so this process is about waking up and getting aware of that illusion.
Breathing deeply, observing reality as it is without adding our mental stress and chatter to whatever the situation is. Being in the now without fantasizing about the future as if we knew better. Accepting and trusting so we can remain stable and comfortable with life as it is.
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