This post was written by our instructor Melissa Howard as she describes her thoughts during Sukhasana, one of the first poses taken in a typical yoga class. Sukhasana, which comes from the Sanskrit word “Sukham” meaning comfort, ease, or pleasure, is essentially a seated cross-legged position that is often used for seated meditation.
For many people, “easy” it is not! Always respect your body’s limitations, and know that if this pose isn’t for you, there are other poses you can take instead, or modify using a chair, cushion, or blocks to make it more comfortable. – S.R.
I’m laying in savasana before the start of class. Ahh… savasana.
The instructor asks us to deepen the breath – ok, I can do that – and to come into Sukhasana pose. Hmm…I wonder what Sukhasana pose is? I look around and as I begin to mime the others in the class, we end in a seated position.
Alright! Sukhasana. I’ve got this.
I look over to the other yogis and notice that their posture is impeccable and that they all look so relaxed yet so focused. And then….there’s me. Flopping into the pose with no effort and a hunched back.
I begin to listen to the instructor’s cues. “Sit tall”. Ok. “Stack shoulders over hips”. Done. “Relax the shoulders”. Check. “Let the legs be heavy”. I think I’m getting the hang of this. Looking a little bit better here.
To help keep my spine neutral, I begin to visualize the space between the back of my hips (sacrum), the space between my shoulder blades (thoracic spine), and the back of my head, all pressing up against a wall.
Then the instructor says “shine your medallion to the front of the room”. I looked down at my chest. No medallion. I look around the room to see if the others are wearing medallions that maybe we were supposed to pick up at the beginning of class. Nope. No medallions. I look at the teacher and she senses my puzzled look. She says in the most gentlest of voices, “your heart”.
I now begin to shine my medallion, my heart, forward. Closing my eyes, I envision my legs as roots connecting into the earth below me. I begin to feel the exchange of energy between my body and the earth.
Feeling a little more at ease in the pose, I begin to focus my thoughts onto my breath. Then, they slowly morph into… “What groceries do I need to pick up?” “Am I doing this right?” “I really have to clean my bathroom.” “Did I pay the phone bill?”
This is what instructors refer to as monkey mind.
Go away monkey mind! I begin to count my inhalations and exhalations to give my mind something else to focus on. There we go. A little better.
I’m feeling a little tight in my hamstrings today so I make the choice to reach for my handy dandy block. I put the block underneath my torso, realign myself, and sink into my breath. Phew. So much better. Some days this “easy pose” isn’t so easy for me. Thank goodness for props!
Now it’s time to bring hands together at heart centre, connect thumbs to the center of our chest, and set an intention. (Intentions bring our attention and awareness to a quality that we wish to cultivate in our practice, such as patience, gratitude or simply just focusing on being in the now).
Before setting this intention, I take a moment to reflect on my day so far and remember the people I encountered, the things I did, the words I spoke and anything else that might stand out.
With all of this in mind, I decide whether to set an intention for myself or to dedicate my practice to someone who might need my energy today.
I like to bring forward this intention or dedication throughout my practice – it helps me to move through my asanas (poses) with deeper meaning.
I set the intention in the back of my mind and know that it is there to pull forward at any time during my practice on and off the mat.
Now, I am ready to yoga.