Benefits of Yoga

Does Your teacher know Patanjali from Adam? – by Erin Bhaskar


Recently, I’ve been coming across this phrase a lot. Roughtly translated in English: the poses should be steady and comfortable.

How many actually follow this? Especially the “comfort” part.  If we did then most of the blogs, tweets and other things I read on yoga would be out of business.  Because right now all their focus is on trying to “achieve” positions, postures and – worst of them all – getting a yoga “cardio”.

Patanjali says sthir sukham asanam. Sthir = steady. Check. Asanam = pose. Check. Sukham = comfortable. No check. Most of us are not comfortable in our poses. My own husband mentioned this morning about how he has a hard time with yoga in the morning cause body is so stiff. “Honey”, I said. “you don’t start out flexible in order to achieve positions in Yoga.  The Yoga will get you to the flexibility if done right.  It’s not another competitive sport.”.

Sthir Sukham Asanam, in my experience, means that if you can only raise your leg an inch instead of all the way to your forehead, then do only that.   See what most people won’t tell you is that along with Sthir Sukham Asanam, Patanjali also said prayatna shaitalyam. Which means, and here’s the kicker, that there is no need to apply un-necessary effort in any of the Asanas.  This may go against your instincts, but if you can raise your arm only ½ an inch then don’t apply the effort to raise it a full inch. It will happen itself at some point. But only if first you are comfortable with where you are at.  Rest into the pose. Relax into it. Be comfortable in it. And bring your focus to your body and mind and BREATH again and again.

It really represents the philosophy of focusing on the journey rather than the destination so beautifully. Focus and be comfortable with where you are at. Then you will see that the destination – of whatever it is you think you want to or should be achieving with your yoga practice – will happen without effort

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