ReBlog: Balance you life and yoga practice with Sthira and Sukha « Jacinta-Yoga

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Balance you life and yoga practice with Sthira and Sukha « Jacinta-Yoga.

This is an important read for all Yoginis and Yogis who practice Hatha Yoga. Thanks to Blogger Jacinta Yoga for writing such an important article. This is about the subtle and most crucial elements of the hatha yoga practice that differentiate the practice from exercise and that many who are new to the practice often miss. Often those who practice the “new American yoga’ tend to morph the practice into a “workout” because these essential awarenesses are not woven into the practice. I really do appreciate Jacinta Yoga for staying within the graces of authentic Indian Hatha Yoga…for somethings ring true in their core form. Indian classical hatha yoga is not a product that is in need of modernization, it is an exact amazing scientific gift for human transformation. If I had seven hundred years more to explore all I could learn from this authentic science it would not be enough.  Sadhguru reminds us that there are over 84,000 asanas not because we should do all but for all the different personalities that exist…we are then guided by our teachers who design the particular yoga mix that is best for us.    However, the simple basics as reminded to us in this Post are most helpful. Rock steady Yoginis and Yogis – Namaste

p.s. do click the first underlined link above to read the article from Jacinta-Yoga.

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145 responses »

  1. You may want to create a schedule with a planner to chart out your tasks, times and when you check it daily you will have more focus on getting things done in an orderly fashion and even find extra time as you get better at using your time consciously….OM

  2. “The way you practice yoga, mirrors the way you live your life.” I like this quote because I can truly relate to it. I love Bikram and Hatha yoga, and appreciate both benefits. I always make time for physical and mental exercises every day, because it is a part of my profession as a dancer. However, when I get caught up in a crazy schedule, and find myself exhausted, it has an effect on my yoga practice. Instead of being mindful, I am rushing and anxious to finish. I always question why I am acting in this manner, even though I chose to do the practice. This is because I over work myself, leading to potential break downs, or injuries.

    I enjoyed this read because I believe living a balanced lifestyle is very important. Everyone needs to know when there body is asking for a rest- and allowing your life to slow down. By listening to your body and reevaluating it each and every day, you will be able to reach a new level of mental awareness.

    Sthira and sukha are complimentary and they teach us the wisdom of balance. By maintaining stability and balance, and working through breath and movement, one will be able to reach their ultimate goal successfully. People tend to put negative connotations on things, and these immediately bring negativity into our lives. Stay open, stay curious, and stay connected!

  3. While reading this article several images came to the forefront of my mind. I imagined the practice in yoga the balance between focus and relaxation, breathing and steadiness. Within these traits, there exists a form of harmony.

    Then, I thought about our lack of patience. Everyday, I experience this impatience, it was not inherit but a learned trait through time. What I find interesting in my generation, a 90’s kid, is that as kids we saw the primitive form of technology. I remember sitting at a computer and waiting for something to load without feeling any sense of frustration. Now that the norm has become instant, I now experience that impatience. I thought about movies as well, I remember having movie night with the family was far more exciting than it is now. Going to Blockbuster, each person got to choose a movie of their liking, getting movie snacks and going home to watch it. Now, it is on our computers. If the computer freezes or the movie slows down we experience this fidget once again. Within these new traits of humanity, there exists an imbalance. We must work through these sensations in order to find harmony.

    I find peacefulness through other practices, such as cooking. I take such pleasure in cooking slowly and enjoying this process. Sitting waiting for something to boil, waiting to add the meats and the flavor, covering the lid, having a conversation with someone and enjoying their presence. Food is one of the most beautiful and gracious pleasures in life. Sharing this experience with someone brings about joy, relief, and laughter. This practice reminds me of being with my family. My mother and her husband love to sit outside and barbeque. Sometimes it will take even up to two hours but in the mean time we enjoy each others company and eat an appetizer. It is so kind and sweet.

    I find this balance of rigidity and softness a lot throughout Europe. People have a tendency to be extremely hardworking but once they arrive to their home, they are present. My mothers husband is German and I find this very curious about him. He is extremely hardworking, a typical business man but when on vacation does not tend to his phone or emails. When he gets home, his mind is there. He wants to participate in cooking and conversation. On Fridays, he has made it important to always come home early no matter the work load. He knows that those evenings are to be shared with family. Sometimes, we even go out as a family just for a walk after dinner with no plans to go anywhere or do anything but to just be and exist.

    There is a balance in this way of living. I do not see people on their phones as often or a cry for wifi here nor there. Food delivery is extremely foreign. There is no need for the rapid pace. It is crucial and important to wait for the stop sign to change to cross a street. There is no rush to get anywhere. You will arrive when you arrive. There are several example as to how to remain and work through these impatience tendencies we have learned.

  4. This article brings up so many important principles in regards to Sthira and Sukha and I couldn’t help but think of other, similar concepts while reading. The concept of duality and balance is present in so many cultures yet it is ironically ignored a lot of the time (especially in Western cultures, though more modernized parts of Eastern countries can also fall victim to this trap). So I decided to explore this topic further and examine how the same principle is applied to the different philosophies embodied in the Tao Yin and Yang and also in my practice of modern Wicca.
    The most obvious similarity I discovered was that of the Yin and the Yang. The two halves of this Tao principle come together to form wholeness and are also the starting point for change (1). In an article by the Personal Tao, a more in-depth description is as follows: “When people see things as beautiful, ugliness is created/When people see things as good, evil is created/Being and non-being produce each other/Difficult and easy complement each other/Long and short define each other/High and low oppose each other/Fore and aft follow each other” (1). What particularly struck me was that “long and short define each other”, implying that our opposites define us by their contrast and that nothing can exist without a reaction or balance “weight”, whether this example is physical or metaphorical. However, I want to bring this a step further by making the controversial argument that this also means we are defined by our challenges, our antagonists, our villains. Like the dark and light sides of the Yin and Yang, a small portion of each exists within its opposite; they define each other and are more alike than they are different, creating a unifying whole. They are not independent but rather interdependent. But keep in mind also that it is accepted that the Yin and Yang are not static and one often has to decrease as the other increases, so as to manage daily fluctuations of energy and maintain balance (1). The Sthira and Sukha are alike in this respect; each has many different facets of their side but there are also parts where they overlap. For example, both the Sthira and the Sukha are opposite to discomfort, pain, and agitation; they represent the contrasting principles of discipline versus joy and comfort, yet they create a unifying whole against a solid negative principle.
    I also examined the Sthira and Sukha in comparison to the principles I follow in practicing Wicca. In Wicca, we believe that the elements are defined by the four corners; Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. There is a central element as well that unites all of these elements together, with that element being the Spirit. Spirit exists in the center of the sacred circle and is the embodiment of Self and intuition; certain practicing pagans and Wiccans often also refer to the Higher Being or the presence of dead souls as “Spirit”, depending on their practice. Wicca is also heavily dependent on the concept of the Male and Female duality, respectfully symbolized as the Sun and the Moon. We do not believe in absolute evil like many Abrahamic faiths tend to do, and instead, believe that good and bad exists in all things and keep each other going through their positioning as opposing forces. This also exists within the practice of any witch or Wiccan that practices spellwork or incantations. While some are familiar with the stereotypical witch practice of cursing, many Wiccans or witches do not like curses because we believe in the Rule of Three; simply put, whatever a person sends out will come back to them three times over. Thus presenting the relation to the Sthira and Sukha in that there is a duality in action and reaction. (It also explains why many witches are hesitant to send out a curse that would cause someone’s hair to fall out, for example). But if a practitioner is presented with a negative energy, sending a curse to them is not always the only option. Witches and Wiccans who are not comfortable with hexes or curses will often do what is called a binding spell; it does not harm the dangerous individual or send the negative energy away with such a force that it will come back to the witch, but rather, it is akin to tying a person’s hands with rope without harming them. Basically, the witch is protected because the person has been restrained from harming them, but not to the point where that individual is harmed themselves. In fact, directing negative energy to the person who started it will only give them more energy to hurl right back. As previously explained, this can be disastrous and upsets the concept of balance, relating it back to the Sthira and Sukha.
    Balance is never stagnant; it fluctuates depending on the energy because life is never existing in a constant state of energy. It moves back and forth to challenge us and reactions to our actions and reactions. We move in a circle, propelling each other forward at a constant speed, see-sawing back and forth and creating a unifying circle of energy in the process. When the scales inside us are tipping to one side, how will we respond? We must not tie ourselves to loose emotion but also not be a slave to the logical side of the brain, either. Both exist in the everlasting duality and cannot be defined as a singular, powerful concept unless they exist together.

    Sources:
    (1) https://personaltao.com/teachings/questions/what-is-yin-yang/

  5. Sthira and Sukha connection to Yin and Yang is that they both teach the wisdom of balance. According to the article, Sthira means to be stable and firm, while Sukha means to be pleasurable or joyful. This is relatable to yoga because the poses we do reflect on how we are feeling. We have to come with a happy and joyful mind so that our practice of yoga can be comfortable. The way we practice yoga reflects on how we live our daily lives. It also shows if we are present and paying attention to how our body is feeling during our toga practice. Adding Sthira and Sukja into our practice will help us channel a new energy and help us become more steady and strong when doing our yoga practices.

    This is also related to our asana practice. I didn’t know that cultivating this new energy can help us in our asana practices to become stronger and more steady when performing our yoga poses. I have to learn how to relax my muscles more during my asanas. I am going to incorporate this to see how this new energy channels throughout my practice.

    I sometimes do think of a yoga as a workout and I see that, that is not the appropriate way to think when practicing yoga. I think this is why many of us have an issue with channeling new energies and being strong minded and steady in our practice because we only see it as a workout. I figured out it wasn’t a workout when I started feeling different doing my yoga practice in class and Isha Kriya. Knowing this has transformed my way of thinking and has made me realized that we have to learn how to be balanced. When we focus on becoming balance, it will come about. I want to see how the Sthira and Sukha can contribute to my practice already. I also want to see how this will affect the energy I have already channeled when doing my asanas.

  6. This article talked about how to balance your life and yoga practice with Sthira and Sukha. Sthira can be translated to stable, firm and alert. Sukha can be translated to joyful, easy, and happy. The breath naturally embodies these two things. You can inhale sthira to channel strength and steadiness, and exhale sukha to channel ease, and happiness. This really makes sense to me, but up until now I have not been able to put in into words. In all my yoga practices using the breath is really important. Without drawing attention to the breath we start to panic in hard positions and we are unable to fully capture the benefits of the pose. When I practice bikram yoga, I find it is especially important to draw my attnaiton back t the breath because when doing yoga in a very warm room, it is easy to let the mind wander. In my practice I will truly start to channel my sthira and sukha in order to truly push my way towards a healthier life using yoga.

  7. I have noticed through both my scholastic and professional career that there are periods of my life either characterized by far too many things to do with a very busy schedule, and periods where I am utterly bored and don’t know what there is to do at all. Life is a complicated web of obligations and opportunities as well as necessary rest and relaxation. To remain happy, it is important to find a balance of both productivity and free/recreational time. While it is important to provide for oneself and others, it is also important to engage in activities that bring oneself happiness and purpose.

    Holding revitalizing yoga poses allows us to ride the line between tranquility (Sukha) and effort (Sthira). By using specific parts of the body to support oneself and physically balance without falling flat on the floor teaches us the discipline to find balance within our own lives, bodies, and thoughts.

    My hobby of music incorporates both of these concepts. It takes a certain amount of effort, experimentation, and practice to achieve a level of musicianship where I am content and can improvise melodies that I wish to play. It is only after I have traded in a certain amount of Sthira that I can bask in the Sukha of enjoying the sounds I am creating. Music is something that brings out both physical pain and pleasure when you are first starting out. One’s fingers must build calluses in order to effectively press down the strings on the fretboard. If you don’t apply the correct amount of pressure, the sound of the note will me muddled and unpleasant. Through effort, one reaps the benefits of enjoying the music that is created.

  8. I really enjoyed reading this article and I appreciated the emphasis on balance very much becuase I highly believe that finding balance in life is extremely important and something I try to remind myself of when I start to feel overwhelmed. Beliefs that will improve our yoga practices are often beliefs that we can take away and use to better the other aspects of our lives as well and and I believe that finding balance in yoga will be an important reminder for me to find balance in my life. The two concepts of Sthira and Suka seem to be opposites and contrast each other however, both are nessasary for successful yoga practice. Many times this is also true for situations in life for example, you need a lot of time to be around other people and friends but you also need to find a balance in that to take time for yourself. I also found the section of the article on Suka very helpful because of the different suggestions for relaxation.

  9. This was a great reading on maintaining a harmony of Sthira and Sukha. The balance of alertness and relaxation is key to fully utilizing the benefits of yoga. The article explains that one must learn how to relax into their yoga pose. If yoga is done incorrectly, it can cause strain or tension. One must learn to relax themselves so that the pose is as relaxing as it is stimulating. Breathing is a way to create and maintain relaxation during each pose and is an integral part of the harmony and balance of the Sthira and Sukha. I found this to be an extremely intriguing reading that helped me to learn the more subtle technical aspects of Hatha yoga such as breathing to maintain relaxation and alertness, with steady posture. I look forward to implementing what I’ve learned into my yoga practices.

    Noah Schmitz

  10. Definitely an insightful read. Personally, I feel as if this given article did an extraordinary job at further expressing Hatha yoga and the elements in which we incorporate into our practice. Being new to yoga, especially Hatha yoga, there are essential aspects one such as myself must understand in regards to the body and the mind. As expressed in the article, I feel as if the author mapped out a well organized and strategic plan in order to understand and absorb all benefits from our yoga practices, in addition to elaborating on the true meaning of yoga, not the spectacle of what yoga has become in modern times.

    This article elaborates on the influence of intertwining the body and the mind together with our yoga poses. And speaking from personal experience, I still find this to be a struggle. Upon reading this article, it becomes more clear to me on how allowing the body and mind to naturally take control over my poses will be beneficial. I constantly find myself thinking and constantly worrying about our poses, which probably what causes me so much stress throughout my practices. I will learn and try my best to adapt into allowing the the natural course of my mind and body, along with breathing to be my guidance – and keep on allowing more time throughout my day for Yoga, seizing all day to day stress.

  11. Patanjali has described the yoga asana as being “Sthira Sukham Asanam” which translate into a steady, comfortable posture. The Sthira and sukha aspects go hand in hand as they form a sort of balance or unity during yoga practices. As the sthira refers to steadiness and firmness, and sukha contrarily involves gentleness, softness and ease. These two complimentary words are truly representative of yga. As you would need steadiness to maintain a posture but also the ease to change or gently release from a posture. If you can find the balance between the two, then you will find inner harmony and peace. Steady and easy breathing is also important for the flow of energies in the body.
    According to the article “the way you practice yoga mirrors the way you live your daily life. Therefore, yoga can be a great tool for developing greater insight into ourselves and the world around us.” I believe this to be somewhat accurate as we have to have a balance in order to blend into society. We are stern, confident, alert, and aggressive when we need to be, the sthira is fully embraced when we are at work or in the presence of strangers. On our personal time we embrace more of the sukha when with family and friends, showing our more relaxed, comfortable, agreeable, and easy going side. This balance is important as we often are too centered around one or the other. Too relaxed, lacking drive and ambition, ending up stuck in place. Or too focused on work, rushing everything, and never allowing time to relax and take in what’s going on with our selves or the world around us.

  12. This article gives me a new perspective on how I should be participating in yoga class. Yoga is not only something you practice with your body but also you should be in the right mindset. While I think it is important for one to be focused on their poses, one shouldn’t be focused too much to the point of added stress on the body. I have found that if I am in a position that I find a little more strenuous on my muscles I try to relax my body into the pose or position I am in. This does help my body and muscles get used to being in this position more and I am able to hold it for longer.

  13. I think the idea of Sthira and Sukha are ideals that can be carried throughout all aspects of our lives and in everything we do- work, school, relationships, etc. in order for us to succeed and feel fulfillment in anything we put ourselves into, we must be alert and aware of what we are doing and also enjoy it.

    I have heard before taking this class that yoga is all about going from imbalanced to balanced. Which I have seen emulated in both the mat work we do every week, my practice of the isha kriya and from the readings on this blog. Yoga and meditation are very holistic practices. I have found it affects every aspect of our beings.

  14. Life is a matter of balance and yoga reflects just that. If you try to do too much at once you can slip. It is the same for yoga, you must know your limits but work to overcome them. I found this reading to be a great supplement to this concept. I have had to learn the hard way several times in this class not to immediately push myself into something I might not quite be ready for and as a result, cause strain or damage to my body.

    Accepting that you may not be able to handle everything immediately is something I have learned from this class. In the past, I would often find myself overloaded because I did not know my limitations and would often take a toll on my health. I have learned now to discover my limits but at the same time also learn how to slowly ease myself into taking of more. This can go not only learning a new pose or adding something to an old one but also with responsibilities in my life as well.

  15. Instant gratification has become the norm in our society. We have been taught to rush through pretty much everything because the faster we do something the better. In the article, Jacinta mentioned putting kids in multiple activities, therefore, teaching them to rush through things at a very early age. Having the chance to work in an elementary I can completely agree with that statement, kids are taught to rush with homework so they can get to play or to make it on time for practice. Rushing is not only bad for their mind and body but for their learning pace. In the time I have been working in the school I have come across kids that do their homework completely wrong because the only thing that matters is finishing it in order to be allowed to play. In the article, the meaning of Sukha and Sthira was explained regarding the yoga practice and then how it can be applied to life in general. I like that she explained how it can be applied to life because I often have a hard time thinking of how it can be used. When she was explaining it in regards to the practice it completely made sense and I understood the importance of having balance. But when she wrote about having too much Sthira in the everyday life I was a bit taken back because I didn’t make the connection between the two.

  16. I find that for myself being comfortable in Yoga is what helps me do best with my practice. In many ways, your body is challenged to balance itself. When my own mind is balanced during my practice then my body follows. Having the quality of balance and understanding it helps build strength throughout your moves.

    Though at first breathing through the nose only through difficult poses was hard. Through the class and doing the Isha Kriya does help with this. Understanding the control of breathing in through your nose helps. I find that the more balance there is in my own life, the more balance I can find in my practice.

  17. The article is basically talking about having balance in both alertness and relaxation during yoga. You have to relax when doing yoga because if you don’t, you’ll end up hurting yourself. You have to learn to relax into the pose that you are doing. You can try breathing to help relax because it will help put you into a state of ease. I hope to try this during yoga, even though it can be hard for me to keep my balance.

  18. Balance is such a key concept in life and yoga as well. It was really nice to read about the middle ground between Sthira and Sukha because I don’t always find it as much or as easily as I’d like to. As always, I think a lot of what is used in practice for yoga can be used in our everyday lives. It is one of the many wonders of yoga to me; it is so universal. I think this reblog was wonderful, I was really happy to have this little reminder.

  19. The practices of sthira and sukha are very simple, but very important. We use them every wednesday in class and I never really thought much of it. We will obviously do it with our breaths, but even in our poses. We will hold a firm pose for a little bit and after you will ask us to shake it out and it creates a balance. If we were just performing firm pose after firm pose without sukha yoga would be very uncomfortable and stress inducing. I also think these ideas are something I unintentionally practice every day. If I got too wrapped up in thought or too agitated I intentionally take breaths and slowly breath out and without even realizing it I was using sukha and sthira to rebalance myself and calm my temper or negative disposition. I think the same is true of why I run. Running to me is a firm sthira practice that creates balance in my life so I don’t spend most of the day lying down watching TV or practicing other sukha like practices. It keeps my life in balance. Even my stretches before running are sukha in comparison to the running; loosening me up before I get tense so I don’t get too tense and strain. Life is composed of sthira and sukha practices, either physically or mentally, and I think the happiest I ever am is when I keep sthira and sukha balanced.

  20. This article made me think about balance; obviously balance is the key to a better, more pleasurable life but it is not always the easiest to attain. Reading about the balance needed between sthira and sukha made me want to be more aware of my breathing during yoga practice, because breath is the foundation that will allow me to create this balance. I appreciate this article because I am truly interested in reaching a higher mind state yet I often feel repressed by my everyday life. There is always something to do, somewhere to go, and even right after practice it is hard for me to retain that feeling of balance and relaxation that I had built up because I have to rush to eat dinner, finish assignments, clean up my space, etc etc. It seems the faster-paced our responsibilities, the better, but this served as a good reminder to be mindful.

  21. Jacinta Aalsma states “If you find balance, you will find inner harmony, both in your practice and in your life.The way you practice yoga mirrors the way you live your daily life. Therefore, yoga can be a great tool for developing greater insight into ourselves and the world around us.” This quote is beautiful and resonates with me, although I enjoy yoga, I still find trouble not letting my mood or how i’m feeling that day interfere with my practice. At times it is hard for me to go within and focus on myself, for the most part I will remain a bit anxious and get fidgity and think of other things in my life or work I have to get done. How would I go about clearing my mind and not letting outside and internal influences take away from my practice? While reading this passage about balancing your life and yoga practice with sthira and sukha it was truly amazing to read about ways to feel balance and joy in your life using yoga, breath, relaxation as well as other personal ways to feel relaxed and mentally healthy and fulfilled. It really is so important to take care of your mind, body and spirit.

    • I think you have the tools now in your personal kit to master separating yourself from the emotional baggage, like the IK, Finger Holds, Pranayama, Surya Namaskar and the yoga sadhana. These are important questions for yourself and if you want to discuss in person let’s talk in class, Namaste

  22. This article reaffirmed what I have been discovering this semester through our practices. Yoga is a workout of the body, mind and soul in ways that differ completely to working out say at the gym. As someone who regularly goes to the gym, the differences are becoming much more clearer to me. When I’m at the gym there is a clear set goals, agendas,reps, times that you set your mind to meet and you push yourself and body to meet them. However with our practice specifically there is no goal, there is no destination, or agenda. I do think there is a feeling that overwhelms you within and during the practice but I also think that feeling is different every time and that you never know at what point in the practice it will come or what it will feel like but all I know is that we start somewhere and end somewhere else and feel accomplished and proud and relaxed, and it can be a magical and rewarding journey. I think that is something that yoga has always had at the core of it’s practice when it isn’t transformed in to a traditional work out.

  23. Balance is everything and this hw has opened a new eye to yoga. Too many people look at yoga as a practice or exercise. Yoga is way life and a mindset. And once you get this concept down you can take what you learn from yoga and bring it to your everyday life. This was a great blog I enjoyed it thoroughly.

  24. Balance is such an important aspect , not just in yoga but everything else in your life and this reading does well to point that out. Most people tend to believe that the physical aspect of yoga is more important than the spiritual and mental aspect of it. There must be a resonating balance in everything in order for you to practice yoga the correct way. Once you steadily balance yourself, you find a harmony within the sthira and sukha realm and your body becomes much lighter and easier to control. I’ve noticed how we instinctively do this inside and outside of class. I’ve never noticed how steadiness and taking your time is so beneficial in creating balance.

    -Samantha Diaz

  25. One part of the article that really stood out to me and showed me the importance of this class is when the article described the goal of yoga as being “a non-physical uniting with the Self.” The hardest part about yoga for me was learning that in order for me to learn the poses and do them to the best of my ability, I had to get into the right state of mind. Shutting out those all around me and focusing on myself in relation to the ground and the universe. During one session I felt the vibrations beneath me during our 36 breaths and it showed me how far along I’ve come and it wasn’t until I maintained a balance between the physical and mental.

  26. One of the things I still struggle with from time to time in my practice of Hatha Yoga is maintaining my balance during my poses. I feel that sometimes I try to over-muscle certain poses. In striving for perfection, I disrupt my inner peace and body harmony. The tension flows through my core and momentarily disrupts my eyes as they achieve focus. This article made me think about my eyes and how relaxed they should be during my poses. Often my eyes will wander slightly, pulling my energy in one direction or another. I need to let my eyes “sink in” and look firmly ahead, through my reflection in the mirror, rather than at it. Often, as Jacinta said, the strain of trying to complete too many tasks in too short of a time will disrupt our inner harmony and leave our poses, and our lives, woefully out of balance. Sometimes I bring this disruptive energy of the day’s many tasks into my yoga practice, and the thoughts continue to stay prevalent in my mind during the session. I will let this energy manifest itself into frustration as I find myself trying to over-muscle poses as opposed to letting my energy flow naturally and relying on good breath control to steady myself. I need to work on proper breath control to steady my body and the flow of my energy.

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