Sthira and Sukha: Strength & Ease

Sukhasana – vorigin is Sanskrit A simple seat. Sukha meaning simple or ease. Asana meaning seat or more commonly known in English as a yoga posture or “pose.”

When you arrive in yoga class you may hear a teacher prattle on in English and some other foreign language. In the back of your mind you may have wondered if it actually is a foreign language or if what they’re saying just sounds foreign. You’re not crazy, I promise! Many yoga teachers integrate Sanskrit (the ancient Indian language) into their classes. Sanskrit is the Latin equivalent for our culture, a dead language only spoken during ceremonies and moments where English just doesn’t quite create the bhav (mood) you’re looking for.

Almost all of my classes have Sanskrit. Many of my colleagues choose not to use it for a myriad of reasons: too complicated to learn, students may feel overwhelmed etc. But for myself, as a self-proclaimed word nerd and someone who loves to watch words dance across the screen or the beauty of hearing new syllables and chants creep into my eardrums, the idea of not using Sanskrit is a sin. I love everything about the language: the rich, deeply rooted sounds and syllables, the idea that you can replace letters without corrupting the word itself, the meaning hidden behind each word and the idioms that sink you deeper into the authenticity of a culture. Sanskrit is a beautiful representation of the Indian culture and I adore each moment and each letter.

Sthira and Sukha are two of my favorite Sanskrit words at the moment. Sukha may sound familiar to you if you’ve ever sat in a simple seat. Sukhasana means simple seat or easy pose. Sukha means the art of being in ease. Other than being connected to this asana, it is almost always referred to alongside sthira.

One of the most difficult concepts that I teach to beginners is the idea of letting go.

The moment you STOP grunting and sweating, pushing yourself into a contorted pose, you’ll likely find it. Sthira and Sukha. Strength and ease. Yang and yin.

Deepak Chopra’s 4th spiritual law is the law of least effort. It allows you to accept where you are in that moment. Let go. Surrender. You’ve done the work and now is the time to rest and release. And sometimes in that exact moment when you “give up” or let go of the ego, you find the pose you’re so desperately craving.

One of my favorite examples is how I found lotus. It was my birthday and I decided to skip work (naughty, yes – but it says a lot about where I was in my life that I skipped work to go to yoga). And go to yoga I did! I attended three classes that day and that evening while I was in class with my mom, I just let go of any ideas of what I wanted my poses to look like or where I wanted to be. I surrendered into the class and gave way to the permission of actually doing what I needed and wanted on the mat. At the very end of class our teacher Jen offered out lotus. I had wanted this pose for so long that I had all but given up. I decided to just try it without judgement to see where I was and magically I found my way into it with complete ease. It was as if I had been doing the pose for years. Pure magic!

Singing Bowl

One of my favorite “real life” examples was when I took my yoga off the mat. October 23rd, 2009 I went on a date with my mom. I “hated men” and had (actually) just been on the worst date of my life the week prior. On our way to the restaurant I was singing along to Michael Bubles “I just haven’t met you yet” and told my mom the song was bullshit and that I would never, ever, ever meet anyone and I was destined to be alone. I also told her I was taking a break from dating. I met my husband that night.

Release. Let go. Surrender. You’ve done the work. Sthira and Sukha. It’s now time to surrender and trust that the most beautiful thing (pose, life event) is coming. It’s around the corner. And today your job is to sink into ease.

Love you yogis!

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