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)
- sthira = steady, stable, motionless
- sukham = comfortable, ease filled
- asanam = meditation posture (from the root ~as, which means “to sit”)
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