Yoga Sutra 2.46 The posture (asana) for Yoga meditation should be steady, stable, and motionless, as well as comfortable, and this is the third of the eight rungs of Yoga.
(sthira sukham asanam)
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali offers us the opportunity to look at all symptoms, all physical pain, as areas of weakness that need attention and one-pointed perseverance to understand and ultimately overcome. Here, he is reminding us to go into our pain or discomfort and to use it as an access point to better know the self. Patanjali invites us to meet all that arises, not as an obstacle, but as a messenger that alerts us to a new discovery about ourselves and names persistent practice as the means to getting there.
Patanjali describes asana as “steady, comfortable, and relaxed” and states that the yogi should be able to hold the body in posture for a long period of time without feeling instability. This is the ultimate goal of asana practice but it doesn’t happen overnight and few of us get there without meeting some challenges along the way. We inevitably will run into those parts of ourselves, physical, mental, or emotional, that are weak, compromised, or asleep. Finding stability, comfort, and ease in posture takes time, commitment, and perseverance. It requires us to accept exactly where we are before we slowly, through consistent and persistent practice, open to a deeper potential. If we push through injury or painful sensation we are acting violently towards ourselves, causing further damage to the physical structure and further disturbance to the mind. This is not Yoga.
When we are willing to listen to the body’s signals physical pain and injury can help teach us how to most intelligently approach our bodies, our practice, and our lives.
If Yoga is, in its essence, the awakening to the inner reality of our being, than everything we encounter along our path is a messenger that brings us back to a deeper understanding of who we are. So stay interested and curious. Be willing to face all you encounter. Modify as necessary but never stop practicing.
As Gurujii (Pattabhi Jois) always said:. “ Slowly, slowly…Do your practice…and all is coming.”
Excerpts from Sthira Sukha Asanam by Devorah Sacks
Yoga Sutra quotation from http://www.swamij.com/yoga-sutras-24648.htm
“ As you love your own body, so regard everyone as equal to your own body. When the Supreme Experience supervenes, everyone’s service is revealed as one’s own service. Call it a bird, an insect, an animal or a man, call it by any name you please, one serves one’s own Self in every one of them. ”
—Anandamayi Maa, Ananda Varta Quarterly
Sri Anandamayi Maa (Bengali: শ্রী আনন্দময়ী মা) (30 April 1896 – 27 August 1982) was an Indian saint from Bengal. Swami Sivananda (Divine Life Society) described her as “the most perfect flower the Indian soil has produced.” Precognition, healing and other miracles were attributed to her by her followers. Paramhansa Yogananda translates Anandamayi as “joy-permeated”. This name was given to her by her devotees in the 1920s to describe what they saw as her habitual state of divine joy and bliss.
Anandamayi Maa never prepared discourses, wrote down, or revised what she had said. People had difficulty transcribing her often informal talks because of their conversational speed, further the Bengali manner of alliterative wordplay was often lost in translation. A devotee, Brahmachari Kamal Bhattacharjee, however made attempts to transcribe her speech before audio recording equipment became widely available in India.
A central theme of her teaching is “the supreme calling of every human being is to aspire to self realization. All other obligations are secondary” and “only actions that kindle man’s divine nature are worthy of the name of actions”. However she did not ask everyone to become a renunciate. “Everyone is right from his own standpoint,” she would say. She did not give formal initiations and refused to be called a guru, as she maintained that “all paths are my paths” and kept saying “I have no particular path”.
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