Two Qualities of Asana
The 46th Sutra in Chapter 2 of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, describes the qualities of an asana. It says “Sthira-Sukham Asanam“. Asana is the Sanskrit word for posture or pose and this Sutra says that there are dual qualities – Sthira and Sukham – people experience in a posture.
Sthira relates to the ability to be steady, stable and alert and when this quality exists, you feel no tension, tightness or mental distraction in the posture. Sukham relates to the ability to be comfortable and relaxed and when this quality exists, you feel relaxed but not sleepy, dull or lethargic.
The other morning I was doing balance asanas as part of my practice and it became quickly apparent that these qualities of Sthira and Sukham were missing. I was wobbly and unfocused and becoming frustrated and tense with my attempts at the posture. As I stopped my attempts and observed myself, it occurred to me that today probably wasn’t the day for balance postures even though normally I feel fine in them. Lesson learned: Try later when I can be stable and comfortable in the posture. Yoga isn’t about “forcing” yourself and “muscling” through. So, I moved on to asanas that did allow me to feel more Sthira and Sukham.
And, when learning new asanas, we don’t always feel stable and comfortable at the beginning. That’s okay and normal. Eventually, with practice, you’ll experience these qualities. But, of course, if you feel pain —- stop!
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