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Between Work and Play

Find Balance in Asana

You know that there is a delicate balance between challenging yourself and taking it easy. Spending too many hours working at the office can cause stress and fatigue, and on the other hand, having an unlimited amount of resting time can create just as strong of a sense of discomfort and stagnancy.

As a yogi, you may find that the same principle applies to your practice on the mat. A practice that is entirely comprised of overly rigorous, high-energy postures can be exhausting and uncomfortable, potentially even leading to physical injury. Conversely, "hanging out" in a posture without expending a sincere effort does not provide a sense of physical, mental, or spiritual satisfaction.

Patanjali addresses this in the Yoga Sutra 2.46 one of the few sutras (threads) in which he addresses exactly what he means by the word asana (posture). The sutra states that an asana is a pose both steady and joyful, strong yet comfortable, and provides both challenge and ease.

So where do you begin to cultivate this balance? It begins with your breath. The next time you practice, on each inhalation, use your breath to pull energy up through the feet (or perhaps the hands, depending on the foundation of your posture) creating space and comfort in the body as well as in the mind. With each exhalation, root your energy downward, back into the ground, to bring steadiness, strength, and stability.

As with many yogic practices, the principle underlying this cultivation of strength with ease is a consistent practice. Your time on the mat is a special time to experiment with and experience all of the various physical and mental patterns that you carry in your day to day life. With practice, patience, and time, your mind will be more easily and quickly attuned to being present and, unattached to expectations, balance will come more easily.

Caroline Holcomb

Recommended: 30 Essential Yoga Poses: For Beginning Students and Their Teachers


Anonymous commented on 12-May-2010 06:11 PM5 out of 5 stars


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