Sthira and Sukha

From time to time we post an essays written by the students in our 200 Hour Teacher Training Program as part of their homework. This is one student’s essay.

 

Yoga Sutra of Patanjali: 2.46 …”posture (asana) [should be] stable (sthira) and comfortable (sukha).” … Resolutely abiding in a good space – balance.

 

I am maintaining a committed yoga practice for almost a year now. After taking Yoga 101, I signed up for unlimited monthly practice, realizing that a fully present, committed yoga practice may very well bring me to a place where I would begin to feel balanced, content, and a member of a community of like minded individuals.

Translation of Sthira and Sukha, in the vernacular, essentially means hard and
soft. Up to now in taking a serious look at my life I see there is much hard and
perhaps little soft. Retreating into a cave is a familiar action that I take. It is one I learned in childhood, quite well, as a protection mechanism, creating a
withdrawal mechanism into detachment. Thus, on the outside I often appear
aloof and serious, certainly not revealing the soft, vulnerable, empathic,
compassionate heart that lies within.

 

“Yoga is not about retreating to a cave, it is more about finding our seat in the world.” Rima Rabbath

 

My yoga practice exposes my vulnerability, putting me closer to trusting those in my yogic circle and affirming that I am on the right path. The hard shell exists for a reason. However, those reasons are beginning to melt away. Asana brings me both challenge, a sense of accomplishment, and peace. I set my concentration on performing postures I find more difficult knowing that as I pass through the trial I come to a reward of relaxation and peace of body and mind. Yes, there are days of practice where I feel resistance in my body and obstruction in my psyche.

This generally happens when I experience upsets or challenges in my life with
family or other entities. Yoga and meditation are bringing me incrementally closer to being comfortable with these temporary disruptions and closer to embracing acceptance of what is as opposed to my struggling against my insistence that situations, people, and things be the way I envision. My perspective is changing – softening. My position though firm is now situated in the knowing I am stepping closer toward confidence of nature vs. staying stuck in the atmosphere of insecurity, doubt, and fear.

Sthira and Sukha of life teach that we need a balance of the hard and soft in our lives. The soft tempers and soothes the hardness of life’s difficulties and
challenges, especially if the outcomes we seek are not those realized. The hard and soft teaches us that when the outcome is not that which we envision, it is so often much more rich than we imagined, much more fulfilling and rewarding, if only we take off our prejudices and blinders to seeing what is rather than trying to see what is not.

Yamas and Niyamas integrating into Modern Life

From time to time we post an essays written by the students in our 200 Hour Teacher Training Program as part of their homework. This is one student’s essay.

Yamas – Restraints

Y: yes to difficult emotions, sensations, and resistance – that generates from
whatever happens in my direct experience.

A: awareness of my present moment and accepting what is as it comes my way.

M: morning meditation on a daily basis for acknowledgement, allowance, and
acceptance of what life holds for me.

A: asana – exploring into my further owning and acceptance of the postures and embracing their expansiveness as well as accepting my body’s limitations in practice.

S: silence as a gift for my body, mind, and spirit – enabling me to listen more
carefully and understand my pathway.

&

Niyamas – Observances

N: no control is letting go, letting be, accepting what is and being present to what is now.

I: introspection and listening to what is within me and how I relate it to what
surrounds me – externally.

Y: yoga sutras are integrated into my daily life as best that I am able given what the Universe provides me.
A: attention to the present moment to by choosing to let go of the past and not worry about the future.

M: mindful breath develops stability and deep rest for my body, mind, and spirit.

A: appreciation and gratitude for all that I have in my life – continuing to
appreciate all and keep myself opening to receiving.

S: smiles and laughter to relax the body, open the mind, and lighten the spirit.

 

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What Is Present Power? (And Why You CAN Do It)

Have you ever looked at our schedule and noticed our Present Power classes? Maybe you have tried it before. Or, maybe the word “power” scared you away. Well, I’m here today to tell you that Present Power is nothing to be afraid of.

First of all, this it not what you would typically picture as “power yoga”.

It’s not a bunch of people in yoga onesies grunting and excessively sweating (although check out this post to read why sweating is good). Present Power is actually the name of a sequence. This class closely follows this sequence, introduced by Beryl Bender Birch in her teacher trainings in recent years.

While we do follow this sequence, this class is suitable for all levels. In fact, it is traditional for all levels of students to practice together. Present Power (and all of our classes) are intended for each individual to do as much or as little as they choose to do. As we often say, the only thing you HAVE to do is breathe.

The Present Power sequence is closely related to Beryl’s other sequences, which many of our classes follow closely. That is to say, you are not likely to see many new postures in this class that you haven’t done before. If one or two new postures do come up, do the best you can. I bet if you sneak a peak around the room you’ll notice that you’re not the only one doing something a little different.

Present Power class is an opportunity to just flow through the practice and breathe.

Yes, you may notice things move a little faster in this class sometimes. But that doesn’t mean YOU have to. This is an opportunity to focus on your breath and, you guessed it, do the best you can.
Please let us know if you have any questions about this, or any of our other classes! We are happy to answer them for you.

What’s stopping you from practicing yoga?

From time to time we post an essays written by the students in our 200 Hour Teacher Training Program as part of their homework. This is one student’s essay.


The Monday before weekend two of our teacher training,  my mother was hospitalized in Massachusetts so I spent the week leading up to our training course at the hospital.  Initially, I was disappointed at the timing.  I was unable to attend yoga classes, engage in “my” practice at home or adequately prepare for the rigors of the weekend course.  But, as it turned out, the week was filled with opportunities to practice yoga 24/7.  The situation certainly demanded a calm, focused, and quiet mind grounded in the present moment.  It would have been easy to be overcome with scary thoughts of what the future might hold.  As luck would have it, I found the chapel and traveled there each day to breathe and meditate!  I tried to be self-aware, observing the flood of emotions that passed through me from day to day… I was sad…I was stressed…I was agitated…I was frustrated…I was scared.  But I tried not to wallow in these feelings – just acknowledge them and let them go.  I tried to stay PRESENT.  I surrendered control of what was happening to a source greater than I and trusted that events would unfold as they were divinely intended.

So it would have been easy to say I couldn’t ‘do’ yoga that week.  And the Sutras would have been right to label me careless, negligent, and lazy about my practice. Instead, despite the little time I had to do the postures, I found infinite time to “do the work”.