Effortlessness is the Key

Patanjali Yoga Sutra Knowledge Sheet 83

Contd. from knowledge sheet 82


Asanas are not just aerobics, not just gymnastics because asanas have to be coordinated with the breath and with awareness. If you are lifting your arms up, you are fully aware that you are lifting your arm up, every inch of it. In gymnastics you simply lift it up. Your attention, your awareness is not there. In yoga, the body, breath and the mind are all united. It is slow motion, like dance, leading from one posture to another posture.

However, when some yoga experts guide you through your asanas, they keep mentioning all the diseases and keep saying “this will cure”. We do not think that it is such a good practice. Of course this knowledge is there that this particular asana will cure this particular disease. But when you are doing the asana there is no need to take in all those information. When you are feeding in this computer, the supercomputer - your brain, you are talking about the posture; you are also feeding in those diseases too. So, the knowledge of what asanas cure what disease should be separate from the practice of the asana itself. Do you see what I am saying? During the practice you just be in that posture. What should you keep in mind about every posture? Sthira sukha āsanam - stable, comfortable and pleasurable. Every asana has to be done with stability and comfort. So, initially stretch little more than you can and relax. What is the effect of asana?


“Prayatnashaithilyanantasamapattibhyām’’ (II Sūtra 47)

prayatna = effort; shaithilya = letting go of; ananta = infinite; samapattibhyam = uniting with.


“Letting go of the effort and uniting with the infinite.”


Letting go of the effort - this is the main point. Feeling the body and letting go of the effort and experiencing the infinity or uniting oneself with the infinite. When you do all the asanas with awareness, how does it feel afterwards? Have you noticed? You feel totally fazed and spaced out. You become spacy. Prayatna shaithilya - let go of the effort. Sit in a comfortable posture, happily and pleasurably. Sukham āsanam. It is a pleasure just to sit. That is sukha. Sukha is pleasure. How do you approach pleasure? Like you say “Oh! Wonderful!” Have you ever sat steadily and felt “Oh! It is wonderful!”  Just sitting? You do once and see how you feel.

Prayatna shaithilya - letting go of all the effort and feeling the infinity. What is the effect of it? What does it do?

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(This is part of a series of knowledge sheets based on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's commentaries on Patanjali Yoga Sutras.)