Present moment awareness with Yoga

Sthira sukham asanam. Essential insight for the practice of yoga postures, these Sanskrit words are meant to guide us. As Mark Stephens explains it, “Sthira means ‘to be stable or firm’, while sukham means ‘to be soft, at ease, relaxed’. Taken together and put into the context of a dynamic practice, we find a blended quality in which one is cultivating steadiness, ease, and presence of mind, breath by breath, within and between the asanas”.

The term asanam, or asana is often simply translated as pose or posture. However, it means so much more. The interpretation I prefer is “being just here, just now, in the present moment” (B.Bouanchaud). I find this description interesting because it is not limiting, meaning, this can be practiced at all times and not just during a yoga class.

By bringing yoga into our lives as a way of living, we become more in tuned with our senses. We can develop a physical awareness that extends and reaches far beyond the body. Everything becomes in sync within us and around us. We find stillness in the incessant movement of Life. We become grounded in our every breath.

Eventually, this space between asanas expands to the space from one practice to the next, bringing this steadiness and ease into our daily lives. And then, as during every practice, we become lighter, filled with inner peace and joy. For this, I am grateful to those in my life who have introduced me to yoga, taught me yoga (here I include my students) and encouraged me to practice it. Namaste.

A few more thoughts on decisions…

A year or so ago, I was talking with a friend over lunch about daily life and the pressure we felt. We both realized that the stress and unhappiness we endured was often of our own making. Always pushing ahead, planning the next event that would make us enjoy life, we were in fact forcing decisions where there was none to be made, whilst missing out on life.

I’ve been reading Keith McGuinnes’ blog Pilgrimage to Nowhere, a young man’s life journey around the world which has evolved into “a journey into the Self”. While in Bali in 2009, he was already planning the next part of his trip when he stopped and realized that he was actually missing out on what was surrounding him Now. And so, he wrote: “I just need to balance movement and stillness, ensuring when I do move, it is because I am ready to move on, not because I need the distraction” (Freedom of Choice Post).

In Yoga, the Sanskrit term Asana is often translated as “pose” or “posture” but it means so much more. Its more literal translation is “to take a seat” which can be more rightfully interpreted as “being present in one’s body, being just here, just now, in the present moment” (Stephens, 2009). Perhaps what I find most inspiring about practicing Yoga, is this stillness through movement: the steadiness of the mind allowing full body-mind awareness, between and through every breath and posture. At the beginning of each practice, we accept to surrender ourselves completely, allowing this moment to fully be ours.

We are too often condemned for not taking action, for not moving fast enough when often times, the change is already occurring and all that is left to do is accepting it. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves in making the right decision in order to succeed in all life’s situations because if we don’t, we’ve lost and failed. Really? But what if we had actually learned something…

Building on the first step of Acceptance, comes trust in ourselves and in life. By trying to learn and grow from our experience, instead of being disappointed in the outcome of our own decision, we surrender our trust in life. Having understood and included acceptance as a stepping stone, we can then move forward because we understand and we trust ourselves a little bit more, bringing us ever closer to happiness. Enjoy the day, enjoy today.

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