How Do You Say ‘Alert and Relaxed’ in Sanskrit?

Mar 17, 2013 | Philosophy, Pleasure, Wisdom, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Yoga teaching  | 0 comments

Do you shut down in yoga class when your teacher uses Sanskrit words and concepts? Or, are you the opposite? You relish the opportunity to extend your learning about yoga, even to the point of assimilating an unfamiliar language.
Probably you stand in the middle; you don’t mind a smattering of the Sanskrit but not so much it keeps you in your head. That’s the position I occupied until last year when I decided – okay, I’ve been into yoga for 40-plus years – about bloody time I studied Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra.
I’m a late bloomer in so many ways; it’s one of the advantages of living a long life!
So, study I did and now that I’ve grasped some of the philosophy of yoga a la Mr. P. (as one of the students calls the Old Sage), I’m sharing what I’m learning in my classes. I even had the audacity to create a Patanjali study group, which has been meeting on Saturday afternoons.
Here are a couple of key concepts from Sutra II-46:

Sthira-sukham asanam
Asana must have the dual qualities of alertness and relaxation.

Various Patanjali interpreters have widely differing meanings for the above concepts. B.K.S. Iyengar is characteristically expressive in his comments in Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:

Whatever asana is performed, it should be done with a feeling of firmness, steadiness and endurance in the body; goodwill in the intelligence of the heart, and awareness and delight in the intelligence of the heart…. Performance of the asana should be nourishing and illuminative.

Oh my! How’s a yoga teacher supposed to convey all of that?
I was very heartened to hear from one of the study group students that she felt her yoga had transformed along the lines of sthira and sukha since she’d been attending my general classes.
Something’s working 🙂


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