Relax & Let Go: Sthira Sukham Asanam / Right Effort

You must savor the fragrance of a posture. Until you are relaxed, you cannot savor the fragrance. – B.K.S. Iyengar

Teaching Points

This teaching says that once in the pose, relax, become still, surrender to resistance and struggle—in both body and mind.

  • Become still, mentally willing to surrender to the experience.
  • Feel the breath. Go from seeking a better pose to just being in it.
  • Focus on the exhale. Gently lengthen the exhale to encourage a feeling of calm and quiet.
  • Focus the mind. Do not allow the mind to run rampant. Focus on alignment, a breath practice, or a meditation technique.
  • When resistances are brought to light and observed with a detached mind, they are more easily shed.
  • The benefit of a challenging practice can be that it brings up resistance, giving us a chance to observe it with a detached mind.
  • “There is always relaxation in the right position, even though you are fully stretching. Keep the brain passive and the cells of the body active without gripping the muscles. The mind does not balance when you force.” (B.K.S. Iyengar)
  • Inspire a deep sense of letting go—not of effort but of struggle.
  • Struggle creates tension in the muscles which constricts you.
  • Struggle creates tension in your mind which limits you.
  • Relax. Release resistance and reaction.
  • We want our bodies to open, to feel freedom of movement and space. To do that, the clenched, guarded muscles must relax. For that to happen, the mind must let go first.
  • Create an attitude of acceptance, safety, surrender, letting go.
  • “Surrendering means working with what we’ve got, setting intentions and working toward them, but without attachment to the outcome.” (Amy Weintraub)
  • In restorative poses, consider gently covering the eyes to reduce mental stimulation.


Just Let Go and Glow

The key to learning yoga poses is to take your brain out of it. Do what you need to make the pose feel comfortable and then from there, just let go and glow. See if you can perform with half your brain tied behind your back. Come out of your thoughts and just be in your body. When you let go mentally, there is a shift physically. – Baron Baptiste

When the Mind is Transformed into Infinity

At first an asana is uncomfortable and even unbearable. But after some practice, the effort of maintaining the body in the same position becomes inconsiderable. Now (and this is of the highest importance), effort must disappear, the position of meditation must become natural; only then does it further concentration… A posture’s perfection is achieved when the mind is transformed into infinity. – Mircea Eliad

Releasing Tension in Body & Brain

Relax the neck and head. If you keep the neck passive and the tongue soft, there is no tension in the brain… As soon as you learn how to relax the tongue and throat, you know how to relax the brain… Do not clench your teeth or you will also be “clenching” your brain. Notice your eyes as well. Tenseness of the eyes also affects the brain. If the eyes are still and silent, the brain is still and passive… The eyes should be soft and sunk in. Keep the eyes open and relaxed and at the same time looking backward during your practice. This looking backward educates the eyes to look within and allows you to observe your body and brain. – B.K.S. Iyengar