Six years ago, when I studied at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai, India, I learned the terms sthira and sukham from my sweet teacher, Geetha.
In his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali uses these terms describe how we should practice yoga asanas, the physical yoga postures. Sthira is a Sanskrit word that means effort or steadiness. Sukham means ease or joy.
We should practice yoga with a balance of effort and ease.
Sthira and sukham came to mind during my personal practice earlier this week. Lately I've been so busy with life (running the studio, real estate drama, family responsibilities, etc.), that I've been neglecting my personal yoga practice, and I was overjoyed to be back on my mat.
But I found that my body was stiff, uncomfortable, and inflexible. My mind's intention to have a robust practice didn't match my body's ability.
So I remembered about sthira and sukham. I focused on my breathing and I listened to my body. And what happened next was pretty phenomenal. So much so, that I wrote down my observations during my practice so that I could be sure to remember the amazing lessons my body was teaching me.
Here is a slightly edited version of what I jotted down:
The body softens and communicates the inner workings. How to move deeper. What's the next step. The process reveals itself. The body and mind whisper their secrets and needs. No need to worry about what's next. No more brain chatter.
And once you tap into the body's voice, you don't have to rush to finish it [make expansive, beautiful poses] today. Your body remembers what it needs and can pick it up next time.
Listening to the body creates Space. For creativity. For thinking. For feeling. For understanding relationships. For good intentions and good self-care.
And by listening to the body and living an authentic, healthy life, things just begin to fall into place. Opportunities open up. What at one time seemed impossible is now easy.
Go with the flow and adjust your plans on the way.
When the student is ready the teacher will appear (and we are our own best teachers).
Don't be in too much of a rush, don't push things. Maybe you need a little more living before the thing you want presents itself.
Wow! That yoga practice felt like therapy. It's amazing what one can figure out in an hour by breathing, tuning into the body, and consciously balancing effort and ease. It makes me want to get back on my mat ASAP and frequently, to look deep inside and see what else there is to learn.
What about you? Have you had any profound experiences through your yoga practice? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below! Or if you haven't yet had any profound experiences, really tune into your practice this week and see if anything comes up!
Until next time, XO, Zelinda
P.S. If you have a friend who is dealing with a lot of stress in their life, who you've been wanting to try yoga, please feel welcome to share this post with them. This may explain how we can use yoga to find some inner peace.