For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
- Newtons Third Law of Motion
Find balance between opposing forces in our body to allow the flow of prana (the energetic breath).
Sthira, sanskrit for meaning steady, strong, resolute and firm. Sukha translates as gentle, easy, joyful, agreeable and good. In relation to our yoga asana practice it denotes firming our muscles, using the core muscles to hold ourselves steady and still, staying strong in both mind and body to take a pose. While finding the strength also find serenity, so while our body and mind is strong enough to hold firm, find the ease in taking deep but gentle breaths.
Holding an uncomfortable position for any length of time is difficult to find these concepts. Focus on the subtle movement of the breath to bring some relaxation to the body. Avoid holding tension in areas of the body unnecessarily, furrowing the brow in concentration or flexing a muscle that isn’t needed for the pose, or lifting your shoulders toward the ears even though we aren’t even using our arms. Pay attention to the subtle effects on the body and bring ease where we can to relax both body and mind.
This dynamic balance of strength, openness, and elegance is beautifully demonstrated in natarajasana (king dancer pose), symbolizing the ancient dance of Shiva. Shiva’s dance has two forms, corresponding to her wrathful and benign manifestations: one is a fierce, violent dance, signifying the destruction of self-limiting awareness; and the other is a gentle, lyrical dance in which Shiva reveals the beautiful, loving, and tender aspects of existence.
Dancer's Pose as Shiva's Dance...
Powerful energy is required to balance on one leg while in a deep back bend.
A glorious heart-opener that asks us to be stable yet at ease, committed yet non-attached, and fully engaged yet at peace.
Like all lessons in yoga, this has implications for life off the mat as well. Holding steady and being resolute is important when we are talking about our values, our ethics and what we hold to be our truth. To know yourself and be true to yourself regardless of what might be popular in society is important for our own happiness. It can take courage to be true to your own beliefs and value systems. This is sthira at its core- staying strong and true. But in that strength we are able to be truly free and joyful. We aren’t struggling with the internal battle that comes about when what we do and say are not in line with our belief and value systems. We find lightness in our lives through that strength – both metaphorically and actually as our bodies seem to lighten as we lose the load of having to pretend.
"The harmonizing of opposing forces is a key aspect of yoga; hot energy is united with cool energy, strong with soft, and masculine with feminine." - Tara Fraser