How to Do Yoga: Begin With Stability and Ease

There’s very little in the ancient texts that describes Yoga Asana, the physical poses we do to strengthen the spine and stay mobile, although one directive has come down through the ages to inform our practice. It’s central to progressing safely whatever fitness level or whether you’re just beginning or more experienced.

Sthira Sukham Asanam- Steadiness and Ease Practicing Yoga Poses

This principle can be adopted in all we do to stay healthy body and mind:

Back in the days of legwarmers when I was a teenager, I remember a yoga instructor loudly exhorting us to hold downward dog. It felt very uncomfortable both physically and emotionally. My legs and shoulders were shaking and all I was thinking was ‘please let this stop’! While there is a place for pushing your body’s limits, in the yoga tradition I teach we follow this guiding principle of stability and ease.

Steadiness in a pose begins from the ground up.

To prepare for a standing pose, distribute your weight evenly between each each foot and feel the support of the floor beneath you. Give equal weight to the big toe ball joint, the little toe ball joint, and across the heel: these three firm points of support form your base. When sitting the principle applies to the support of your buttocks from which the spine rises in it’s natural curves. Often sitting on a  firm folded blanket or chair will ensure that the curve of your lower lumbar spine is natural, preventing it from rounding forward which causes strain in your back.

From a steady foundation ease will flow.

Moving into each pose notice if there’s any instability and as you stay in the asana if there’s trembling or strain back off or stop and modify the pose. That the exercise is easy is as vitally important as the stability. When you start from a place of cultivating ease, you’re beginning where you are on the physical level. In this way you’ll gain strength and flexibility naturally.

The breath must also be steady and easy, and to develop depth of breath and stability in your core you’ll learn to  gradually lengthening it mindfully. When staying in a posture, if you notice the breath becoming shaky, ragged, or labored it’s time to return to a resting position.

The key is to maintain a sense of ease- with practice your abilities will grow.

Being steadier on your feet and moving with ease has been proven as one way you can maintain a healthy body throughout life. You’re able to do the activities you love and enjoy with your family and friends, which keeps you active and emotionally fulfilled, and you’re less likely to fall or otherwise injure yourself.

As you practice stability and ease in the physical postures, you’ll find that your mind also reflects these qualities: drama and self-criticism will be reduced, improving your relationships at home and at work, reducing stress, and improving quality of life. Gaining these benefits is also another predictor of a long and happy life.

This ancient wisdom, ‘sthira sukham asanam’, along with an experienced teacher to guide you, will ensure you get the most out of your yoga practice.

Your yoga teacher acts as a mirror, guiding you towards an understanding of what is safe for you in your body and when to explore going deeper or staying in poses longer.

Reach out to me for more information on the various yoga programs to meet all you needs and budget.  And remember,  the Joy Core Connection Retreat in Courtice is next Saturday- it’s a great way to start or get back into yoga and nurture body and mind before the Holiday busyness takes over!

Francie Adamson,
Yoga Therapist and Health Coach
Personalized yoga online and in Courtice Ontario