I am by no means a Sanskrit, the original language of yoga, expert nor do I claim to be a scholar of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, a set of texts which guide us towards living a yogic life, but through my yoga teacher training I’ve learned a little bit about one sutra, thread, in particular: sthira sukham asanam, Sutra 2.46. This yoga sutra is used to explain the concept that in yoga posture we should feel comfortable and steady, always. In yoga and in life, comfort and steadiness aren’t always an easy thing to come by. What if, though, we were to manage our expectation of these things, would they become easier to gain?
For instance, for some people standing on one foot is a very challenging thing to do, while for others it seems that those individuals could stand on one foot all day, never wobbling in the slightest. Does that mean that those people in the former category, the wobbly people, shouldn’t ever try standing one foot because they can’t do so easily, with comfort and steadiness? Of course not! Depending on what’s going on in our individual bodies at any given time, we may need more accommodations and/or more time in achieving our goal, to stand on one foot, but it’s a goal we can work towards, if we have the capacity to do so.
It’s important to remember, thought, that it is both possible to work towards a goal and never achieve that goal, and still have a very comfortable and steady yoga practice, and life. Above you read that the sutras are a series of concepts which guide us towards living a yogic life, yoga is life and life is yoga. It doesn’t matter if you can do fancy yoga poses, or even “easy” yoga poses for that matter, nor do you have to be able to meditate, or chant, or practice mudra, seal, you can live a yogic life simply by living honestly and practicing comfort and steadiness, always.
You see, math or reading might be a challenge for us, or perhaps sitting still during class is our biggest challenge, in those cases, sometimes we need more time or extra help learning how to find comfort and steadiness in those practices, but they are practices. Everything we do is an opportunity to practice being comfortable and steady, we might have an interaction with a friend, peer or an authority figure that is challenging, and our ability to stay comfortable and steady in our reaction is confronted. It’s then that we have the opportunity to choose to practice being our best selves and respond with comfort and steadiness, but it isn’t always easy to do so, and that’s the challenge.
The opposite is true, too. Maybe we easily know how to respond to, or navigate through a situation, but if we’re not awake to our response, if we respond without intention, we’re no more steady than we are in the face of a real challenge. It’s great to be relaxed in a situation, but we must also be aware to what’s going on around us. Our world isn’t one of isolation, every single one of our actions has a consequence, intended or unintended, and if we are unaware of our actions those consequences risk other people’s comfort and steadiness, even if our own comfort and steadiness remain in tact. We don’t have to be successful every time we try something, in fact, we learn more from failure than we do from success. But, for the comfort and steadiness of all, we must practice and be aware in order to continue to learn.