I am a yoga instructor, of course a practitioner as well, and have an ongoing zeal for delving deeper into the practice and wisdom of yoga. Surely this comes first and primarily through practice of yoga. But what is yoga?
In this time and place (America 2011), we have, in a sense, invented/evolved yoga into what it is today. From what we know, yoga in the West is different than the ancient yoga which inspired so many wisdom texts such as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and more. This is a bigger topic of it's own, one I hope to share my thoughts on later (and learn yours as well).
So I practice what I know. And I am curious about what I don't know. What reading the texts in their first tongue can teach me. What this ancient language holds, which we skim over.
An early find on my sanskrit search yielded this exciting li'l discovery:
Most yogis are familiar with the posture Sukhasana ("easy" pose). Which, as a Beginning Yoga teacher, I can tell you is anything but "easy" for standard Western bodies with tight hips and lack of strength in the muscles along the spine. At the studio which I teach (Yoga North), we sometimes joke about "who named this easy pose anyway?"
- "asana" refers to a yoga posture
- "sukha" can translate to a number of things: pleasure, joy
- and the similar "sukhi" translates happy or shining (as in the mantra Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu-- May all beings everywhere be happy and free.)
So this makes me think about the posture differently, particularly because the classic purpose of the asana (posture practice) is to prepare the body to sit for long periods of time in meditation. This Sukhasana is a common choice for seated meditation-- and what comes in meditation? An even mind, concentration, oneness, bliss. Sukha.
Now that makes sense to me. This is a posture which brings happiness.
*All this said, these are my excited uneducated speculations which lead me to deeper study of the language. If you are an Sanskrit expert reading this, I welcome your gentle critiques/corrections.
Thank you! Namaste.