Sthira Sukham Asanam
The posture (asana) for Yoga meditation should be steady, stable, and motionless, as well as comfortable, and this is the third of the eight rungs of Yoga.
Sthira- steady, stable, motionless
Sukham- comfortable, ease filled
Asanam- meditation posture (from the root ~as, which means "to sit")
Steady and comfortable
The two essential characteristics of the sitting posture for meditation are that it must be-
Steady, stable, motionless
Comfortable, or filled with ease
Exists because of the quality of the mind, as well as a connection to the earth.
Steadiness comes from the skeletal system being placed properly, as well as engaging the musculature to support the bones.
Bones grounding into the earth provide, stability and centeredness.
The central axis of the spine happens from the inhale and will enable a steadiness in any meditative seat.
Exists from intention in action?
Ease comes from a consistent relationship to breath and Source.
Ease happens on the exhale, softening the surface the skin.
Drishti assists in both of these states
Does your mind need focus/ steadiness? Focus on one spot.
Is your nervous system overly active? Close your eyes and turn inside.
The sage Vyasa (He is a central and revered figure in most Hindu traditions. He is also sometimes called Veda Vyāsa "the one who classified the Vedas”. He is the author of the Mahabharata, as well as a character in it, and the scribe of both the Vedas and Puranas).
He commented on this sutra, names 11 postures- (some I know, some are different names for other poses, some I couldn’t understand the written description and some describe just say sit on an animal skin or imitate the elephant).
Padmasana is well-known [sitting posture]- lotus
Virasana is that in which a sitting man [or woman] has one foot in contact with the ground, and places the other over the partially inclined knee- toes curled, other leg- half lotus.
Bhadrasana is that in which the sitting man [or woman] places the soles of both feet joined together below the testicles [or genital area], and places both hands with the fingers interlaced over that region. Baddha Konasana
Svastika is that in which the left foot is placed, a little downward inclined between the right thigh and shank, and the right foot is placed in a similar position between the left thigh and shank. Seated auspicious pose
Dandasana is practiced by sitting with thighs, shanks and feet stretched straight along the ground with the ankles joined together, but the toes kept apart.
Paryanka is that in which the knees are extended and the arms are used to lie upon.
Sopasraya is that in which the tiger's skin or the deer skin or some cloth is used to sit upon. [The skins were used over grass due to the coldness of the ground, but these are not generally necessary now.]
Kraunchanisadana and others of the same class are to be imitated from the sitting postures of the Krauncha, the elephant, the camel.
Samasamsthana is that in which the feet are so placed that the heels and fore-parts of both are joined together with the feet a little bent.
Sthirasukha is whatever posture may secure steadiness and ease. This is approved by the writer of the aphorisms [Patanjali]. It is also described as Yathasukha. This means any position that may secure ease.
The connection to the earth is steady and joyful in whatever seat you take.
What are the different seats you take in life? Roles?
Can you remember the connection to the earth?
Can you remain steady in joyful no matter the circumstance?
The means of perfecting the posture is that of relaxing or loosening of effort, and allowing attention to merge with endlessness, or the infinite.
Prayatna - tension or effort (related to trying to do the posture)
Shaithilya- by relaxing, loosening, lessening, slackening
Ananta- infinite, endlessness
Samapattibhyam- by focusing attention on, coincidence, merging
Two means of perfecting meditation posture
- Loosening of tension or effort to sit in the posture
- Allowing attention to merge with the infinite
A still higher degree of steadiness is attained by samyama, (the last three limbs of the 8- limb path- dhyana, dharana, samadhi), and attention at the hollow of the throat.
Most of us have busy lives in which everything happens because of a concerted effort to "make it happen!" It seems as if we must do something if anything is to happen. Perfecting posture for meditation comes not so much by doing but of not doing. Surely, we have to put some effort into training the body to sit straight and be aligned. However, after that is accomplished, the next step is to learn to do nothing, allowing the posture to settle in for meditation. It is an active form of doing nothing, of consciously ceasing to place any effort into the posture. This conscious effort to release any form of effort can be felt experientially, internally.
Loosening of effort through attention
One way of loosening effort is to systematically move attention through the body through a variety of relaxation practices. By systematically moving attention and breathing smoothly, the releasing of tension and effort comes easily. It is more a case of allowing than of causing the release that leads to a perfected posture. A perfected posture is not something you have to achieve. Similar to the force you put on yourself in life to be perfect. Perfecting the posture is rather you relaxing with where you are.
Focusing on the infinite
To focus on the infinite simply close your eyes, sit as comfortably and erect as you can, and allow your attention to expand. Attention likes to wrap itself around an object. Allow that object to be the whole of infinity. The mind will not be able to do it, but the effort to do so will easily be seen to bring a stability in the sitting posture. With a bit of experimentation, you can feel the effects of this yourself.
Effortless and the infinite go together
By consciously, intentionally practicing the effortlessness of posture, along with the focus on embracing the infinite, it becomes self-evident how well these two work together. The expansion and letting go bring a natural release, as the attention is ready to move inward to the next limb.
Tatah Dvandva Anabhighata
From the attainment of that perfected posture, there arises an unassailable, unimpeded freedom from suffering due to the pairs of opposites (such as heat and cold, good and bad, or pain and pleasure).
Tatah = then, thereby, thence, from that
Dvandva = the pairs of opposites, the dualities, dichotomies
Anabhighata = unimpeded freedom from suffering, without effect or impact, cessation of disturbance
Freedom from pairs of opposites: From the attainment of a perfected posture, there arises an unassailable, unimpeded freedom from suffering due to the pairs of opposites such as heat and cold, good and bad, or pain and pleasure. That perfected posture comes from the two means of loosening of effort and focusing attention on the infinite.