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Yoga Sutra 2.46

  • November 2016
  • Yoga Thesis
  • By Kristen Mansch

Sthira sukham asanam: steady comfortable posture. This well-known yoga sutra points out 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. A posture needs to be steady and strong to maintain a safe practice. Though too much sthira leads to gripping and unnecessary struggle. Too much effort can also be present in the mind. Most often we think "struggle" before we feel "struggle". Notice how much sthira is present when you practice.

Too much effort in practice? Try these tips to add more ease:
• Slow down and smooth your breathing
• Relax your jaw
• Soften your drishti (gaze) and forehead
• Have an easy and lighthearted attitude


Sukha means ease and calm

SUKHA (ease)
Sukha involves gentleness and calm. A posture will feel joyful, open, and light. Sukha is more subtle, though equally powerful. Through conscious surrender and smooth calm breathing, time on the mat becomes sacred. Practice shifts further inward and becomes more of a moving meditation. Notice the amount of ease as you practice.

Too much ease in practice? Try these tips to add more stability:
• Deepen, and increase the sound, of your breathing
• Engage bandhas (specifically uddhiyana and mula bandhas)
• Focus your drishti like a laser beam
• Engage and activate muscles


STHIRA AND SUKHA IN DAILY LIFE
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.

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

—Conscious Rest
Prioritize time to rest. Create space to soften. 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
Begin your day with gratitude. 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. :)