YS 2.46 Sthira-Sukham Âsanam
Asana is a steady and comfortable posture
On the first day of this Ashtanga Mysore week I received my first verbal adjustment after doing the sunset invitations A & B and some standing positions. Luke recited Yoga Sutra 2.46; which is Sthira-Sukham-Asanam. He told me he sees a lot of “Sukham” (ease and joyfulness), which is a good quality, and that I should work on “Sthira” (steadyness) in my Asana practise.
I like Luke’s advice. When I started practising Ashtanga Yoga now over 4 years ago, I was a bit too enthusiastic and determinate. I was pushing myself too hard in exercise, with injury (mainly in the knee) as a result. During the years I learned to be really kind to myself and began to move in a slower pace. Nowadays I fully enjoy building up the postures and feel relaxed during this dynamic and physically demanding practise. I master integrating “Sukham”. Now it’s time for the next step: build up “Sthira”!
The power of “locking up” in Ashtanga
In Ashtanga yoga breath and movement are synchronised to produce an internal heat designed to purify the body. Practically Luke challenges me constantly focus on the Ujjayi breath, without interruption. Also he asks me to “lock” or “mudra of” the poses in their full expression. I don’t mean Yoga Mudra, one of the finishing poses. I mean getting the wrist locked in Marichyasana A and toe locks in other poses. Keeping the energy, the prana, flowing and not letting it seep away is also a reason why Ashtanga Yoga teaches not to open our fingers during practice.
I’m far from able to achieve this fully in all poses, but I can recognise that something changes when I “close the circle”, so to speak. I guess it feels like an uninterrupted electrical circuit; all the energy has a place to run, in an endless loop.
Another focus point is building up speed and force. Luke challenges me to jump back from Uttanasana into plank position. Also I’m asked not to come down fully on my belly while flowing from high plank to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana.
It’s tough and challenging. I sweat a lot during practise. My Bandha‘s (energy locks) are working full power. Sometimes it makes me even emotional, in a good way. It’s so beautiful to fully connect with the body and experience it in it’s very pure form.
Applying Sthira and Sukham anywhere!
This advice applies to us in our asana practice, but of course also in daily life. We can always check whether we are grounded, focused and stable but also relaxed and joyful at the same time.
The word asana means, “seat”, so it refers to the place where we are. Even while not practicing formal asana we are always in an asana. Sitting, standing, walking, laying down we can apply this sutra. Remaining relaxed but awake, mindful and connected. 🙂
Namaste, Sophie Nusselder