Sutra 2.46: sthira sukham asanam
The posture of the body during the practice of contemplation and at other times, as also the posture of the mind (or attitude to life) should be firm and pleasant. Translation and interpretation by Swami Venkatesananda
Asana. One of Yoga’s many terms that we use routinely instead of its English translation, in large part because there is no simple, one-word translation. Hopefully a yoga teacher out there has at some point offered a breakdown of the term for you, but in case not, the yoga sutras have you covered.
What is asana? 2.46 tells us it is a posture or seat that is at once steady and full of ease. Sthira means steady, unwavering, connected to roots. Sukha means sweet, full of ease, comfortable. Asana is a seat, and in yoga, it should be sthira sukham, steady and comfortable.
Many of us in the modern world think of yoga asana class as part of our exercise options, which is certainly valid. I doubt, however, that most of us also think of exercise as something that is full of ease – joy, maybe, but not necessarily comfort. In order to get the body to grow and change, some relative discomfort is necessary – such as working a muscle to fatigue so that it will rebuild stronger.
Historians tells us that yoga asana was indeed developed as exercise that would hone a rich mind body connection, and perhaps through its association with Yoga, the emphasis for the experience was a psychosomatically balanced one, without distress from discomfort, and the space for comfort to build out of this calm.
Your mind is muscle, too, and through your awareness you can connect to the power of ease inside effort, the calm of strength, and the steadiness of movement.
Sthira sukham asanam. Asana is a steady posture with the sweetness of ease running through it.
Hari om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras are a classical text on yoga–a guidebook of sorts.
Each week, 216 teacher Esther Palmer dives into one of the sutras and we let it take us where it takes us.