Sthira Sukha Asanam – this Sanskrit phrase is one of the earliest yoga sutras I learned. For so long, I paid the most attention to the first two words.
Sthira means a steady STRENGTH. Think Warriors, and the POWER in your foundation.
Sukha means EASE. Think of the open heart and soft facial expression and ability to relax.
I have used this as an opportunity to notice where I cultivate each one. I can be in strength OR ease. However, recently my attention has been drawn (my gentle way of saying God has put something in my face) to the last word – Asanam. Asana is a part of every pose we take, it actually means SEAT. So, strength and ease sit together – it’s not either/or – it’s BOTH.
I need room for each at the same time, holding on AND letting go. This sutra has also always reminded of a Psalm that says “God is my STRENGTH and my SONG.” That’s not OR either. So, in the face of the most challenging circumstances that call for and cultivate my STRENGTH, can I find my SONG? The ease and gratitude to sing in the face of challenge – is that present? Limiting it to the poses, can I stay in wonder and flexibility when every part of my body wants to find the quickest exit from the toughest postures? In the grounding pull of my fear, can I find the steady lightness to fly? My answer is yes, I can. Actually it’s yes, I am practicing. Thank God we call this a practice!
We get better at what we practice. The ability to find ease in challenge, to sing the “cold and broken Hallelujah” is a powerful thing to practice! The breath that POWERFULLY keeps us alive while whispering GENTLY to us at the same time is a powerful reminder of what can steady us in the storm. K. Pattabhi Jois says, “Do your practice and all is coming.” I believe it.