Tag Archives: balance

Yoga is Balance: Sthira & Sukha On & Off the Mat


Yoga is balance. A fine and tricky balance, to say the least.  But if attained, this balance can provide both calming and grounding energy in addition to giving way to enlightening inspiration and positive change.  In order to get to this sought-after neutral place, one must play with the delicate dance of opposites… hard and soft, dark and light, rough and smooth.  How can we navigate our way to this sweet nectar in the middle where bliss lives?  How can we find our own sense of peace and calm amidst the the back and forth see-saw of lows and highs that is life?  In a word… yoga.

One of the greatest gifts we receive from our yoga practice is that irreplaceable feeling of pure bliss that we are afforded after practice.  And in practice, what we are truly doing is balancing out effort and ease, the well-known yoga concept of sthira and sukha.  In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, he gives us the following aphorism (from sutra 2.46): “sthira-sukham asanam.”  This sutra is most commonly translated as “asana (postures) should be stable {sthira} and comfortable {sukha}.  Being established in a good place- that is, getting grounded, finding proper alignment, diligent focus, engaging the right muscles, and harnessing energy correctly coupled with maintaining a healthy prana (breath/life force) is what this sutra is all about.


We aren’t looking to feel exhausted after a yoga class… in fact, many teachers would argue we’re doing something wrong if we feel this degree of depletion after practice. Instead, we should feel alive yet relaxed at the same time.  We should be practicing in a way that regenerates our energy, not in a way that depletes it.   To achieve this, we ought to be checking in with our breathing often (is prana moving freely?) and we can also do a post class check to see how we are feeling as a whole (are we feeling balanced?).  In the words of T.K.V. Desikachar, we are looking to find and maintain sthira, “alertness without tension” while also finding and maintaining sukha, “relaxation without dullness.”

Hard to both attain and maintain, balance is really the key to one’s yoga practice and if we’re
thinking about yoga in it’s entirety, this translates to balance being the key to living blissfully.  Sure, we need to find both steadiness and ease in downward dog and warrior II, but we also need this delicate balance of embodying enthusiasm and liveliness while at the same time staying focused and keeping our feet firmly planted in our everyday lives.  This is where the yoga practice becomes a life practice.  Striving for that sweet nectar in the middle will bring us toward our perfect happy medium… our own personal bliss.  That nectar of bliss only becomes attainable to us when we are living a life in balance, a life of yoga.