Okay, so if there is something I really love love love with the yoga that I am practising, it is the feeling of being stable and light at the same time.
I’m nearly always there in my self-practice, and sometimes I am there both in my practice AND my daily life – I see it as yoga on and off the mat! My aim is to embody this sense of stability and ease all the time as I move and live through my day. I believe that once you have it within you, it shines through in your way of being. Perhaps what really comes through is a sense of calmness and contentment as you know who you are and where you are. You are happy with what you have, and you are not that easily triggered by events happening around you. You are standing firmly, taking your place in the world. And at the same time, nothing is blocking you in any way from easily expressing happiness and joy of life.
In yoga, the balance between being stable and light simultaneously is known as Sthira Sukha. It is described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra (verse 2.46). Among all the themes I enjoy bringing to my classes, such as moving with fluidity, openness in hips and shoulders, focusing on the breath for the whole class, or having a focus mostly on the feet, Sthira Sukha is by far my favourite theme. By practising yoga regularly, and by finding your own balance between strength and ease in each posture, I believe you can access just the right combination of stability and lightness – you can’t help it! Yoga has its own way of working on you. Yes, muscles are involved in getting there, and isn’t it great that that’s part of the practice?
To give an example of a posture in which you can embody Sthira Sukha, let’s take the Warrior II posture: With feet apart and arms stretching out wide to the sides, you are standing firmly on the mat (Sthira). You are fully aware of your relationship to the ground. At the same time, by allowing your arms to lengthen out with ease to the sides, you are expressing lightness (Sukha). I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when I see students in my class stand in Warrior II and Sthira Sukha just oozes out of them! When you are really in the pose, it feels so stable and so light, it feels wonderful. This feeling is accessible in all yoga postures. To me, Sthira Sukha represents who we are as human beings: we are solid and strong, and we are also light and vulnerable.
Sthira Sukha can perhaps sound intangible to students coming for a Yoga for Sports class, but it is actually a great place to be when you are practising a sport! When you are there, that means full control of your body as you move with ease – you become a fluid athlete. Free in your movements, and at the same time with this deep “knowing” within you that you are grounded, focused and strong.
I love the way yoga teacher Donna Farhi describes this feeling in her book Pathways to a Centered Body: “Accessing a secure relationship with the ground (Sthira…) can generate a kinesthetic experience of being seated in the self – trusting yourself, trusting life, and feeling comfortable in your own skin. In this state of groundedness, peacefulness and ease (Sukha…) are more accessible”.
My wish for you is to find Sthira Sukha in your life, not just in a yoga class! It is a beautiful place to be, and it is accessible to us all 🙏