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Understanding Yoga Philosophy

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Understanding Yoga Philosophy

Patanjali Sutra 2.46 Stirha Sukham Asanam

 

The asana practice should be steady and comfortable.
In a perfect asana, performed meditatively and with a sustained current of concentration, the self assumes its perfect form, its integrity being beyond reproach.

Many yoga students are surprised to learn that the extraneous effort they pour into their yoga poses could be keeping their practice from being authentic expressions of the tradition of yoga. 

 

Several contemporary yoga styles and classes are designed to drive students to their maximum physical edge of intensity, sweating it out in hot classes, packed in like sardines and lead through fast flows in competitive studio environments.

 

As a result, many students arrive to yoga class expecting to have to perform for their teacher’s praise and their spot in the “yoga club” by pushing themselves to their breaking point and mistakenly adopting pain, overexertion and risk of injury as constants in their practice. 

 

Flashy yoga poses on social media are all the rage in industry pop culture and the complex poses that are being shared rarely showcase the years of patience in practice and the physical, emotional and mental conditioning that goes into training in extreme athletic endeavors like advanced asana.

When we are unwilling to balance effort and ease in our yoga practice and consciously cultivate the patience necessary to refrain from pushing ourselves into poses our bodies may not be appropriately conditioned for; we run the risk of diluting the tradition to the extent that the practice may not be effective in helping us develop balance in our mobility and strength. 

 

We may also miss out on the potential to hone our sensory feedback and our ability to intuitively refine our alignment in asana and transcend any self-limiting patterns of moving, thinking and behaving both on and off the mat. 

 

Practicing in this way also propagates the western conditioned idea of “no pain, no gain” and puts you or if you are teaching, your students at risk for injury. 

 

The yoga asana practice becomes stirha-centric, all push and force, when the mind imposes performance expectations on the body and we begin to approach postures as goals, feeling enthused and accomplished if we perform well and deflated and dejected if we do not meet the ability standards we may have knowingly and unknowingly set for ourselves.

 

A heavy and healthy integration of stirha’s gentleness and surrender can soften the strength of our resolve to do cool yoga poses. 

 

Yoga is an expression of who we are rather than some- thing we do. What can you not do in order to be?

 

Settle into a state of being your yoga.

 

Be willing to allow your practice to unfold organically rather than continuing to strain and strive toward asanas as perceived goals. 

 

Be moderate and mindful, self-disciplined, honest and 

 

Be willing to see surrender as an expression of your strength.

 

Remind yourself that the practice of Yoga is an integrative path to wellbeing; uniting our fragmented energies while liberating the mind, body and heart of fear so a healthy inner dialogue and sanctuary where love and trust can be cultivated.

Patanjali Sutra 2.46 Stirha Sukham Asanam

 

The asana practice should be steady and comfortable.

 

Stirha-
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.”
Sukham-
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).
Asanam- asana, stems from the root as, which suggests
the act of sitting down, abiding, dwelling, inhabiting, being present
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