Updated: Sep 20, 2020
"Be faithful in small things that you do, because it is in them that your strength lies."
Red Flags, Green Lights
Have you ever found yourself agitated if something isn't going your way? Coming up against resistance over and over again, red flags I've heard them called. Quite simply, something not feeling 'quite right.' We can get so stuck, and even if we know it's not right, we keep pushing, and ultimately, get pushed right back! Sound familiar?
And then you have the opposite. Man, that feels good. I want more. Everything feels easy. Everything is going well. And here, if you step back, you'll see you're in your flow. Your element. Green lights all round. And this doesn't have to be anything big. Life changing. But the small things of life. And if you take a step back back, you'll see they all have something in common. You're doing them with integrity, honesty, and most importantly of all, presence.
So much of our culture pushes us to 'think big,' 'be the best,' and to 'live our best life.' But what if what you were was already enough. The ordinary and not the extraordinary really is enough. What if we could embrace the ordinary and just be happy with that. Let go of the weight of the world and be who you actually are. What if you take away the pressure that social media brings, and the ever hopeful promise of the perfect life #nofilterneeded. What if you really could just start with the little things. And do them with love. It may sound cliché, but it can be a helpful little nugget to keep in your pocket. Especially when things start to get a bit shakey. So how does this apply to yoga I hear you ask? Well, it begins at the start. It begins with your seat.
And Roll Out Your Mat
We all look forward to savasana and the end of our practice, but what if that same magic could be applied to the start, to the seat. Whether you're in easy cross legged (sukhasana) or any other seated pose, it's so important to take the time to set ourselves up right! You wouldn't jump into the pool without checking the depth, temperature, or that you'd taken your watch off. Let's apply the same to our yoga practice.
So, what does this really mean. Take time to:
Wriggle out all the wriggles
Commit to stillness
Cultivate a little peace and calm in the body and mind
Quieten the body, quieten the mind
Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, let a little something go
What postures can I start in?
Ideally, something meditative. If we turn to a little yoga philosophy here we can learn a little from the explanation of the Dharma bhava. Bhava is a Sanskrit word that means attitude or feeling, and quite simply it means applying the attitude/feeling of Dharma to certain yoga poses. Dharma here meaning to tune into your intrinsic essence of being. As a fish is to swim, Yoga says a person is to grow. And that's our dharma, our raison d'etre. Sounds easy right. So where do we start? At the start!
Identify your duty. You may have many, you may wear many hats. A parent, a friend, a spouse. You are undoubtedly different things to different people. But start with yourself. Put your mask on first (and this has more meanings these days!). Take care of yourself and your happiness will shine out into the outer rings. To your family, to your friends, to your colleagues, your community and ultimately, to the world! This topic is huge and leads us to explore the eight limbs of yoga. One for another time. But right now, first things first, let's start at the beginning.
Asana, The Seat & Your Practice
The third of the eight limbs of yoga is Asana. Asana literally means 'seat.' But in our Western culture we have taken it to mean posture or pose, and apply it to a very wide array of positions we make with our bodies and term them 'yoga.' There is nothing wrong with this, but it's interesting to explore a little more deeply. And I find it actually helps to take the pressure of the shape of pose, and reminds us that all that matters is how the pose, or asana, feels. Inside!
sthira sukham asanam
Yoga Sutra's of Patanjali, 2.46
Pantajali tells us here that every asana should be ‘STEADY’ and ‘COMFORTABLE’ – STHIRA and SUKHA. ‘Sthira’ means grounded or steady and ‘Sukha’ means comfortable or easy. Whenever you practise yoga you’re trying to find the balance between these two aspects. Seeking this equilibrium is what it’s all about! Find yourself in a steady and comfortable place, embrace ease and listen to your body, instead of pushing and forcing ourselves into places and spaces we just aren't meant to be.
So, start your practice from this place. Adopt an easy and comfortable pose, and find your seat. And as you move through your practice, bring your mind back to this place,of ease, of strength, of contentment, and let it shine forth!
Asana, The Seat & Your Life
One of the best things of a regular yoga practice is seeing how it can begin to sneak into every aspect of your everyday life. The constant exploration between Sthira and Sukha in our yoga postures, as with all things, impacts our daily life. Yoga teaches us to strengthen areas of weakness, to observe and relax areas of sensation. It encourages us to practice acceptance, humility and to simply allow things to just be, teaching us to cultivate balance in our life – to live with contentment and ease.
Ready to create a little bit of space for you? Why not try our Live Online Yoga classes, bringing you accessible yoga for all, from our living room to yours? Sign up now for 15 days of free unlimited classes.
Carrie is a co-founder of The Frog Project, yoga teacher, and full time stay at home mum to two smalls. When she's not playing with the kids or practicing yoga, you'll likely find her in the middle of her veg patch, trowel in hand and covered in mud. She loves the outdoors, and would camp every night given the chance. She and her partner in crime, Martin, set up The Frog Project with the aim of bringing classical yoga to all, and deliver live online classes with a group of dedicated teachers, to students of all experiences, ages, shapes, sizes, jobs, lives, you name it, from all around the world. Join them now and get 15 days of free unlimited classes. It's just yoga.