Don’t Force: Sthira Sukham Asanam / Right Effort

  • Here we consider the profoundly impactful teaching of approaching postures—and life—with a focus on process and feeling as opposed to forcing a result.
  • One way to describe this process is to exchange thinking for sensing and feeling.
  • Sensing and feeling allows one to tap into the body’s intuitive wisdom.
  • Pay particular attention to areas where you typically carry tension, where you love being massaged.
  • Avoid being “mechanical.” Bring the mind to the present.

Readings

Full Expression of Poses May Only be Accessible to a Few

Many yoga books illustrate a standing forward bend with the model’s forehead touching her knees, her legs and arms straight, and the palms of her hands on the ground. While the form in this posture looks great, the truth is only about 10 percent of the entire population can achieve it, and it’s not necessary for a successful yoga practice. – Yoga RX 

Use the Breath as a Gauge

The breath is the most effective gauge for balancing effort with ease in asana practice. When the breathing becomes shallow, erratic, or nonexistent, you are likely doing too much. At these times, you are sending signals through the nervous system that the body is in danger. The nervous system responds by tightening the muscles further. Practice so that the breath is calm, deep, and in harmony with the outer manifestation of the asana. Then the body can relax.  – Charlotte Bell