Tuesday, March 19, 2013

steadiness and ease

Misty Pittman has a bit of an obsession. Read on Friends.....

Sthira Sukham Asanam.  Asana is a steady, comfortable posture.
~ The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

If you have taken any of my classes in the past month, you are all too familiar with my fascination surrounding this topic.  In fact, it is starting to become a bit of an obsession.

Patanjali tells us that any posture that allows us to feel steady and relaxed is a yoga pose.  Say what?  Yes, absolutely.  It is as simple and difficult as that. 

Meditators practice the yoga poses with hopes that physical ease and suppleness will be achieved, so that they may sit for extended periods of time in meditation, without having the distractions of physical discomfort.

But what about the rest of us?  Those of us new to yoga that find awkwardness and resistance in every pose?  Those of us with injuries and cranky bodies?  Those of us who push past our limits, trying to achieve perfection, bypassing steadiness? 
And why is it so important to be aware of this concept? 

Because if our aim is not steadiness and ease (both on and off the mat), then we are only struggling and resisting.

As yoga practitioners, where do we start?  We know that in the course of a 75 min yoga class, many opportunities will come up that will challenge us. 

Begin by honoring your body.  Don't ignore pain.  Keep your ego in check.  Keep it simple. 

Stand in tadasana and feel the four corners of your feet pressing into the floor.  Lift your kneecaps and firm up through your hamstrings.  Feel that energy lift your spine tall, open your heart, and close your eyes.  Even as your body sways, can you feel stable through your feet?  Can you feel the lightness of your upper body?  Can you feel the fullness of your breath?

Of course, not every pose is this simple.  Many poses will challenge our strength, our balance, and our flexibility.  I experienced this myself in a recent class.  I couldn’t even hold my hands together in prayer without them trembling.   I took my attention to my breath, and even though my body shook uncontrollably, I found that I could detach and find steadiness through my inhales and exhales.  Not easy, but amazing to feel that ease amidst the chaos of my tired body.

I encourage you to play with this.  Pick a pose that is mildly challenging for you and then ask yourself how you can invite both states of steadiness and ease into the posture.   Maybe you simply loosen the grip of your toes and soften the muscles around the face.  Maybe you imagine reaching your tailbone down into the mat, as your spine effortlessly grows tall. 

The possibilities are endless.

No comments: