One of the gifts of yoga is its ability to increase our sensitivity to our own prana so that we learn to move through our lives with steadiness (sthira) and ease (sukha). The first term, sthira, can mean “firm, compact, strong, steadfast, static, resolute, and courageous”; etymologically it arises from the root stha, which means “to stand, to be firm, to take a stand.”
Sukha means “happy, good, joyful, delightful, easy, agreeable, gentle, mild, and virtuous.” The literal meaning is “good space,” from the root words su (good) and kha (space). Cultivating sthira and sukha as we move through the days and seasons of our lives establishes a foundation for fully realizing our spiritual aspirations, for accomplishing our worldly goals, and for weathering the inevitable changes and difficulties that come our way.
To be grounded and committed to whatever you are doing – when you are doing it.
Because the physical postures are the best-known aspect of yoga, let’s first consider what it feels like to cultivate these two qualities—sthira and sukha—in our asana practice.
Sthira is the ability to “hold steady” in an asana, to hold body, energy, and mind in balance for an extended period. This capacity is known as asana sthiti, which can be translated as either “dwelling in an asana” or “steadfastness in an asana.” True asana sthiti arises when the muscles are evenly engaged and free of tension and strain; when the cadence of the breath becomes rhythmic; and when the mind becomes patient and vigilant, observing whatever arises from moment to moment.
Sukha, or “good space,” in asana practice is the comfort that arises when the joints and bones are harmoniously aligned with gravity and when the muscles are free of strain. At the energetic level, sukha manifests as an easy flow of breath and balanced circulation of prana (life force). Mentally, this “good space” manifests as a meditative quality of joy, satisfaction, and spacious awareness.
How we behave to others and ourselves reflects the authenticity of our lives. When fear and jealousy are the masters of our minds, and thus our actions, the ensuing view of our lives as half-empty is what we reflect. Our dedication to the physical and spiritual practice of yoga begins the journey away from such thoughts toward loving-kindness, our true authentic state.
I find myself most authentic when giving back to the community. It is a tradition before every class I teach to ask everyone to say hello and welcome each other to the community. For some, this is the hardest part of the practice. By bursting our protective bubble and showing kindness to a complete stranger we actively practice the greatest gift of yoga. I am always a bit nervous before every class I give; however it affords me the constant opportunity to practice humility and truthfulness while reserving judgment and the fear of not being good enough.
I just feel really loving and connected to myself during and after yoga. I feel like it’s a treat for my body, and it centers me. I Everything rolls off my shoulders, the fog in my mind dissipates, my energy radiates back through me, and my heart opens up. It removes all the bad from the week, and cleanses me to receive more good in the week coming up.
Are you searching for your soul? Then come out from your prison – Rumi