Balancing Effort & Ease

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.

Commercial Real Estate: A Lesson in Non-Attachment

Ancient yogic texts teach us that becoming attached to things - objects, circumstances, expectations, or people - will ultimately cause us pain. When the object of attachment breaks, gets lost, changes, moves away, or dies, we experience the pain of heartbreak. This makes sense on a logical level, but putting into practice a lifestyle of non-attachment is pretty challenging. My search for a space to relocate our studio has been one huge lesson in non-attachment. As you may know, the property that houses The Yoga Room will be demolished when construction begins on a fly-over that will run from Deepwood Avenue to I-35, sometime around January 2015. Because of that, and because we just plain need more space, I've been looking for a new place to house the studio for nearly a year.

Thinking back, I've put serious offers on 3 places. I invested tens of hours of work into each of these properties: visiting, contemplating location, considering traffic patterns, designing floor plans, getting contractor bids on the work needed, and negotiating lease terms. The more work I put into each property, the more I visualized the floor plan and sensed how the space would feel when we were finally able to move in, the more attached I became.

Ultimately, when each of the properties fell through, typically due to the inability to come to agreeable terms with the landlord, I felt defeated. Heartbroken. The beautiful, serene practice spaces that I dreamed up in my mind disappeared into thin air. And I was equally annoyed with myself for sharing real estate updates with students and teachers and bringing them along on my real estate emotional roller coaster.

Even for yoga teachers, sometimes it takes a little trial and error to learn our yogic lessons.

In May I started looking into a property near the corner of 79 and Mays. I made a conscious effort not to get too excited about it. I'd learned from heartbreak times 3. I designed the floor plan. I sensed how serene and bright the space would feel. I consciously reminded myself that, while this would be a great space, negotiations could fall through at any time.

As my realtor and I prepared to submit the floor plan to the property's realtor, we learned that two other parties were also interested in the same space. And worse, one of those was interested in purchasing the space rather than leasing. Over the course of the next few days, the property's realtor didn't mention the other parties again. We figured they had lost interest. I was hopeful again.

We met with contractors who would bid on the buildout work required to make the space into a yoga studio. After a week we received the bids. While they were high, we figured we could negotiate them to a manageable number. We submitted the bids to the property's realtor and on Wednesday of this week she replied that the landlord was willing to work with us to define mutually agreeable lease terms. I was really feeling like this was the one.

Then yesterday I received a voice message from my realtor: the group that was interested in purchasing the space is moving forward. Game over.

And to my surprise, I was ok. I wasn't heartbroken.

I remembered that there's another unit at the same property that could possibly work out to be our yoga studio. So this afternoon I'll go there and begin again.

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali teaches that yoga should be practiced with abhyasa (discipline, consistency of effort) and vairagya (non-attachment). Just as we step onto our yoga mats with consistency and practice joyfully without attachment to the fruits of the practice, so should we live our daily lives. It's easier said than done, but the good news is that every day we have the opporunity to live our yoga, learning lessons as we go.

What is your experience with non-attachment? Is it something you might want to integrate into your daily life? Can you think of a situation where you were heartbroken after becoming attached to something? Please tell me your thoughts in the Comments section below. I look forward to hearing from you!

XO, Zelinda



P.S. Thank you to Ellen Stansell for providing me the reference on the language of abhyasa and vairagya in the Yoga Sutras. She is a scholar of Indian Philosophy and yoga teacher at TYR, and she writes an incredibly insightful blog. You should check it out.