Samyak Yoga Blog

Sthiram and Sukham – Phases of Yoga Practice
By Yogacharya Rakesh
May 29, 2015

Do you remember the first time you dropped into a Yoga Studio and wanted to practice something called “Yoga”? Might be it was a friend suggested or had to find an alternative physical fitness process or just out of curiosity. Unlike the other fitness styles, the Yoga teacher kept talking about breathing and you didn’t understand!

Phase 1: Sthiram and Sukham:

Sthiram:

Most often, we all face a similar situation in the very first Yoga class. But there was something that made you happy and you wanted to go again. After a few days, might be the next day you went to another class. It took a few classes to understand the terms the teacher was using. Breathe, Inhale, tuck the tale-bone in, draw the shoulder blades back, and so on. There were a few postures we weren’t able to do it. But the kindness of the teacher, the smile, the way of encouragement, and the impact, though hard to explain, was something that made us hit the studios again and again.

Slowly the body was able to practice many postures that the teacher was showing. We were one among those doing almost all the postures in the class. The downward dog, the shoulder stand, the fish etc. were getting better and better every day. We were no longer the beginners in terms of practicing the postures. There was stability in the physical body in terms of practicing asanas.

Sukham:

Then, it was time to find space! Strangely, we were able to find the rhythm of breathing during the practice now. We were able to understand “inhale and exhale” the coordination between the movement which made no sense in the beginning of Asana practice. If you were fortunate to attend good yoga classes then definitely you will be able to differentiate and appreciate the breath-focused yoga classes and their impact.

Patanjali calls it “shiram sukham Asanam” the steady and comfortable posture is Asana.

Phase 2: Sthiram and Sukham

Sthiram and Sukham at phase 2 will be transformed into more subtle and deeper.

Sthiram:

If you have been able to find the roots, philosophy, and larger frame of yoga practice, you would get the techniques to bring out the stability in the mind. Yoga practice no more makes a physical, but through physical towards the mind. It transforms as a way to keep the mind still, sthiram, focused.

Sukham:

The happiness gets a new definition by now. The stillness of the mind makes you inward and your definition of life, happiness and expectations differ from that of others. Though your perceptions do not make any sense to others, you experience something called “contentment”. This is the new Sukham, contentment you experience as a result of Yoga practice.

Traditional Hatha Yoga – Details

This leads to the third phase of Sthiram and Sukham rooted in spirituality which we will see in the next segment.

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