Yoga Sutra 2.46

  • November 2016
  • Yoga Philosophy
  • By Kristen Mansch

Sthira sukham asanam: steady comfortable posture. This well-known yoga sutra points to two naturally opposing but equally powerful forces; sthira and sukha. Sthira means steady and alert — active and strong. Sukha means comfortable and soft — joyful and open. It benefits us to notice the amount of effort and ease in asana practice and daily life. Too much sthira, and over gripping and tension are present. Too much sukha, and there is lack of stability and grounding. When both forces are in harmony, equanimity is born.

Sthira means steady and alert

STHIRA (effort)
Sthira refers to steadiness, firmness and stability. Yoga postures require it. An asana needs to be steady, active and strong to maintain a safe stable practice. Though too much sthira leads to gripping and struggle. This can also occur in the mind. Most often we think "struggle" before we feel "struggle". Be conscious of the amount of sthira in your practice.

Too much effort in practice? Try these tips to add more ease:
• Breathe evenly and smoothly. Bring more attention and length to exhales
• Relax your jaw
• Soften your drishti and forehead
• Be easy going and lighthearted in thoughts and attitude

Sukha means ease and calm

SUKHA (ease)
Sukha involves gentleness and calm. A posture will feel joyful, open and light when sukha is present. Sukha is a more subtle quality, though equally powerful and perhaps of greater value. Through conscious surrender and steady even breathing, time on the mat becomes sacred. Practice turns inward and becomes meditation. Begin to notice the amount of ease in your practice.

Too much ease in practice? Try these tips to add more stability:
• Engage bandhas (primarily mula bandha and uddhiyana bandha)
• Focus your drishti like a laser beam
• Actively squeeze muscles in postures
• Notice where the stability of the pose is

As a society we tend toward too much sthira. Days are often in a constant state of doing. Like creates more like. How can we counterbalance and incorporate more sukha into our daily life? Give these a try:

—Limit Use of Media
TV, ipad, smart phone and social media all quickly become over-stimulating. Set a time limit. When time is up, turn screens off.

—Take a Media Break
Unplug from technology for a day, or more if you can. Reset in nature. Enjoy a walk or hike outdoors.

—Take Time and Care While Eating
What we eat is equally important to how we eat. Slow down and enjoy meals uninterrupted. Pause a moment in gratitude before enjoying food.

When stressed, the breath is irregular. Calm your breath and mind-body will follow. Elongate exhales. When anxious, inhalations increase and exhalations are short.

—Conscious Rest
Prioritize time to rest deeply. Allow yourself space to sofen. An ideal time is before bed. Enjoy a calming treat; warm bath, cup of tea, meditation, yoga nidra, or simply close your eyes and follow your breath.

—Set a Morning Intension to Be Lighthearted
Begin your day with gratitude. Intentionally set your mind on the good in your life. Make a decision at the start of the day to keep an easy going attitude... smiling also works. :)