Yoga is a lamp lit from within the heart and soul of the person practicing. It is also passed along or shared teacher to student, yogi to yogi. Once lit, we can perceive what is shadow and what is real, dancing with the shadows into the light all with alertness and trust. (Painting: Ed Pahr)
Patanjali sutra 2.46 Sthirasukhamasanam
Asana must have the dual qualities of alertness and relaxation. In all areas of our life, Sthira and Sukha, firmness with compassion or sweetness are good principles to apply… not just to buying fruit but to enjoying the fruits of yoga, pranayama and finding the sweet, firm stillness of meditation and being present for the gift of each and every moment.
Sthira is defined as steadiness ness and alertness. Sukha is relaxation or the sweetness when we release effort. Both are part of Yoga. One of the many definitions of Hatha Yoga is the yoga of force. We know that to move into any position, it is necessary to exert some effort. Some action must be taken. When we meet with obstacles it depends upon our state of perception as to whether we need to relax back , perhaps practice more or find another way or to exert a little extra effort to overcome. The last is generally more dangerous than the first because often when we meet our obstacles, they are both physical and mental often with an emotional component as well so we go to war with our selves. A primary principle of yoga is Ahimsa, non violence . Often we find that by standing still and observing the right action is revealed. Sometimes, it even allows the apparent obstacle to soften or yield so that we come into relationship other than adversarial with that part of ourselves. This is very sweet.
In teaching this principle I was reminded that succo in Italian is the juice of the fruit. It got me thinking that the fruit is best picked when it is still firm but not hard, when the flesh of the fruit yields a bit to the touch the fruit will be juicy and sweet. Just so in our yoga practice to get the Sukha, the sweetness of balance between effort and release. The word Sthira brings to mine stirare, to iron out the wrinkles . In a certain sense we must be firm yet gentle, have just the right amount of heat in order to stirare our wrinkles. Our joints tend to stiffen and creak when there’s not enough juice and muscles need to have the wrinkles, or kinks ironed out to lengthen and support as well as being able to either tense or relax as needed to move or be still and know that “I am…” But still, not to take ones’s self too seriously, we had a good laugh because of my pronunciation when students asked me if I meant zucca, or pumpkin. Well, I was talking about the light within and we do often scare ourselves with the faces we make or see and the masks we wear so maybe that’s another lesson for All Hallow’s Eve, we come in all shapes and sizes but all have a light within.