Yoga is full of constrasts! Sometimes I hear teachers say – “Stay firm in your foundation and maintain a sense of ease in your breath”….the first time I heard it, I thought – huh?? I finally did grasp this idea and am eager to share…
A few weeks ago, I shared about sukha which is a Sanskrit word (Sanskrit is the beautiful language yogic wisdom was recorded in in India and from the Vedas or book of knowledge). Sukha translates to ease or flow or comfort. In contrast to this is sthira which is essentially about staying steadfast and firm. In your pose, yes, so that you are not flying quickly from pose to pose. Rather, there is intention, consistency in your practice and also away from the mat. So, you are working on this balance between sukha and sthira.
“Sthira is a Sanskrit word that may be translated as “steadiness” or “strength.” In terms of etymology, it comes from the root word, stha, which means “to stand” or “to be firm.” As such, it also has connotations of resolution, courage and firmness.” Yogapedia.
Inspiritus Yoga have an excellent article about yoga and touch on the history of yoga, influence of Patanjali (sage) and sthira.
“A sage named Patanjali delineated and systematized yoga into a 8-limbed path to yoga over 2,000 years ago that consisted of the following:
- Yama: Self-restraint, self-control or self discipline. The yamas
represent a series of ethical rules for “right living”.
- Niyama: Observance or rule. The niymas represent additional
ethical rules or personal disciplines for “right living” that compliment the yamas.
- Asana: The physical postures practiced in yoga. The word breaks down as = to be/breathe, san = to join with, and na = the eternal vibration.
- Pranayama: The practice of breath awareness and breath control Prana means breath, life, energy, spirit or soul. Ayama means to extend or draw out, so praynayamaliterally means “extension of the breath” or more accurately, “extension of the life”.
- Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses from external objects and transcendence beyond the physical body and its senses.
- Dharana: The practice of concentration and comes from the word dhri=attention. It is steady focus of the mind.
- Dhyana: The practice of focused attention through steadfast meditation or contemplation. It involves complete stillness of the mind where the mind is acutely aware without any particular focus.
- Samadhi: Complete oneness with the object of meditation, and results in the arrival at a state of bliss where the one meditating is completely absorbed into God or the divine.” sourced from Inspiritus Yoga.
The reason I share about sthira today is because we are in October and getting close to end of the month and year. The physical practice of yoga is one small part of the whole practice….The finish line of the year is in sight, yet we are not there yet. 🙂 May you stay strong and firm in your yoga practice, your off the mat intentions and flow towards the end of the month and year with ease and flow.