This month we have been talking about sutra 11.46: Sthira sukham asanam at Be Yoga. Personally I love the commentary on the yoga sutras by Nischala Joy Devi in her book The Secret Power of Yoga. She translates this sutra as, “The natural comfort and joy of our being is expressed when the body becomes steady.” She goes on to explain how, “sthira denotes an effortlessness while coming into the pose or posture, holding it, or coming out of it”, and that “sukha reflects the natural state of comfort and joy.”
This week I have been asking my students to take this beyond just their asana practice, but also into their daily lives. Asking them where they might be able to find more ease, comfort and joy in their daily lives. This is the yoga off the mat…taking what we cultivate off the mat and into our lives.
As I was driving home from Be Yoga after teaching last week, I was contemplating where I might be able to bring more ease, comfort and joy into my life. All of the sudden a long 2×4 came flying off of a handyman’s truck right at me. The lumber on the truck were obviously lacking the proper securing in the open back of the pickup truck, and as the truck went speeding down 485, one piece of wood lifted off into the air. I swerved to avoid it and also the cars around me, almost losing control of my car.
As I came back to control, I returned to my previous pondering: ease, comfort, and joy, how could I find that in this situation. My heart was pounding, my sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight mode) was in high gear. By using some of the practices I have learned over the years, I was able to slow down my breath and notice where I was feeling the energy. I could feel it in my stomach, my jaw was clenched, and my body felt rigid. Even now as I type this I am feeling it. I focused on those areas and allowed the sensations to soften, and dissipate. I began to lengthen my breath and expand it deeper into my belly. Slowly as I focused on comfort, ease and joy as I turned down the sympathetic nervous system response, and connected more with my parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest mode). As I calmed myself, my body to return to a sense of ease and comfort.
The next time you encounter a piece of lumber, or more likely an uncomfortable or stressful situation notice where you feel it in your body, allow it to dissipate and return to the breath. Breathe in comfort, ease and joy.
Namaste ~ Shona