“Yogas citta vritti nirodhah.”
“Yoga is the resolution of conflict in our minds.”
(Yoga Sutras of Patanjali)
Sometimes, deciding to take up yoga is the expression of a turning point in life. A search for an alternative approach, trying to shake off dysfunctional habits and self-defeating thought patterns.
Hatha Yoga aims at quieting the mind, mainly focusing on physical exercise. This is where we often face our limits regarding breath control, flexibility and concentration.
Unlike as in gymnastics, which despite of its health enhancing qualities, mostly emphasizes physical capacity and performance, yoga cultivates an attitude of letting go.
Yoga is neither a competition nor is it about taking the perfect pose, but about experiencing a spiritual quality. Bringing acceptance into your life by realizing and embracing yourself.
Through yoga, the vital energy (Prana, Chi) is harmonized as we systematically practice a synchronized sequence of postures thus attaining the required power to break up negative behavioral patterns and thought structures.
Besides physical strengthening, thought control and composure, one of the most important aspects of yoga is achieving balance.
In his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes this as “Sthira Sukham Asanam” which translates “The posture is steady and comfortable”. Herein the approach of uniting opposites shines already through as “Sthira” and “Sukha” frame a state of balance.
“Sthira” not only means “steady” but also “changeless” or “solid”. By this we are asked to transcend internal resistance that might occur during practice, often merely a sign of beginning relaxation, in order to let go thus embracing the present moment.
“Sukha” equally translates as “comfortable”, “happy” or “light”.
Again we face the principle of devotion, non-violence (Ahimsa). We are continually pointed to the questions “Am I comfortable this way?” “What do I have to change to feel good?”
Deriving from the Sanskrit root “as” meaning “seat”, the term “Asana” traditionally relates to the seated posture.
However, “Asana” in the sense of “pose” should not be understood as a rigid and fixed position, but as an invitation to individually explore and experience each layer of body, spirit and soul.
By exercising a posture, we also learn how to enter and hold it for a certain period of time. Without interruption, using breath as an anchor, totally absorbed in the present moment, utterly aware of our thoughts and emotions. We combine release and hold, balance relaxation and tension, effort and ease.
Moreover, “as” means being present in one’s body, existing, indicating a broader comprehension of asana as a foundation on which we build our daily actions.
With reference to our lives this can mean steadiness in setting our goals and ease in realizing them. For sometimes, letting go is the most challenging pose of all.