In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras we are advised to seek Sthira and Sukkha, or steadiness and comfort, in all aspects of our lives.
In Asana practice, you might notice yourself feeling tense and irritated in a challenging pose that you have yet to master, wondering when the instructor will “set you free” and get on to the next pose.
This physical and emotional response actually makes the pose far more difficult while decreasing its benefits. But if we seek to become steady and grounded despite the challenge, and then cultivate a sense of acceptance, relaxation and comfort in the pose, we create the opportunity for a major shift.
One of the many wonderful aspects of Asana practice is that it is a metaphor for life. As we gain strength and flexibility in our bodies, we find that we can bring this progress to our daily experience of the world. We have more power to deal with the demands of our day, and more flexibility to handle the pressures, disappointments and setbacks that might come our way. As we master a difficult pose that we once thought impossible for us, we come to see that we have a greater capacity to move forward in our professional, personal and spiritual lives than we once believed.
This is bringing Yoga up off our mats and into our daily lives. Through Sthira and Sukkha, we are able to act skillfully in trying times, with clarity, wisdom and grace. Instead of reacting to challenges with fear, anger or frustration, we can find steadiness and then seek comfort, even in the greatest of maelstroms.
I invite you to practice Sthira and Sukkha in these simple ways:
- When challenges arise, stay in your center and avoid instant emotional reaction.
- Instead of feeling anxious about difficulties, cultivate a sense of acceptance and relaxation.