Sthira Sukham Asanam
Many years ago, I read a line in the yoga sutras that stayed with me. It says, sthira sukham asanam. Translated this means, The posture should be steady and comfortable (Yoga Sutra 2:46). At the time, I only thought to apply this principle purely to my asana practice. Now, 40 years on, when I read the same sutra, I’m very much aware that it’s not only referring to how my daily asana practice should be approached. It’s also about my daily life in relationships to myself and others. It points to the mindful practice of being fully steady and comfortable day in and day out, both on and off the mat.
Over my years of teaching yoga, I’m often a witness to students berating themselves, mostly for not achieving the outcome of their expectations. They complain that yesterday was a better practice or ask in frustration, ‘Why can’t I balance in headstand today? It’s been weeks!’. To view yourself as ‘bad’ or a ‘failure’ because you did not accomplish what you set out to do is a harsh judgment. To state clearly and simply that you did not accomplish your goal reflects honesty and responsibility. It’s important to observe ourselves in this area. It reminds me of a saying I’ve always loved - When you finish your asana practice, remember not to roll up the ‘yoga’ along with your yoga mat.
As we move out of our 15 weeks of lockdown here in Sydney, it is going to require a certain amount of mindful practice on our part, so that we can approach this transition in a sincere, compassionate and responsible manner. Re-entering our lives and our city is going to feel different, and it will feel like trying something new and perhaps difficult at times. This is not unlike learning a new yoga posture. You can attempt it with force, you can berate yourself into getting there, or you could instead choose to approach it from an insightful place, a place of enquiry. This is the comfortable, steady and honest place.
I think it’s fair to say that we mostly all enjoy feeling special. It’s part of human nature. Feeling special for some looks like hundreds of ‘likes’ on an Instagram post, being switched from economy to business class, or finding a way to the front of the line. However it looks for you, the knowledge that we are all special on this planet stands true. To recognise our own importance requires recognising the importance of others. This will always result in treating others with respect.
On Monday the 11th of October, at the end of our lockdown, one thing will be ending and another beginning. How will you approach this new beginning? Will you walk into it with the respect and dignity that we all deserve? As things begin to annoy us, whether it’s our neighbour or our politicians, remember – it’s been a long and difficult 20 months for us all – no exceptions. Bring that yoga practice to your life. It’s why we roll out that yoga mat.
I’m very much looking forward to opening up the doors of YogaMoves. It will be wonderful to see you all and know that you have been safe and well. And it will feel amazing to re-create the yoga community once again. Of course, this will look different to what we have known. There will be limited numbers for a while and a few guidelines for holding a safe environment. I trust we can follow them in the same manner that Patanjali stated in the sutra - steady and comfortable.
Details of how to book will be on the website soon.
Be kind to yourselves and each other.