The difficulty of asana

Walking onto my mat this morning, I already had too much on my mind: work things, family things, little inconsequential things. All conspired against real concentration. (See the recent interview with Eddie Stern about yoga as concentration, if you missed it.)

I moved through the sun salutes onto the standing poses, and right past some — Parsvakonasana, notably — that are typically tough for me and thus call for some extra concentration.

And then I reached Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana, and for whatever reason — one of those mystery moments in practice — I found a little bit more of the stretch, a little more of the balance, a little length of breath.

All of which was difficult. Tough. But as I focused in on it — on that strain to get toward the pose — my concentration followed and my mind focused. It even, I think, collapsed down into almost nothing.

All of which I recognized after. But the rest of practice, while perhaps not quite as concentrated, was far more focused than the beginning had been.

And so I was reminded, again, of the importance of the difficulty of asana. The challenge gives us something so precise to turn our attention toward, and the greater that challenge and the difficulty of it the more we need to concentrate. And the more all the other stuff we might be carrying alone can fall away. The closer we get to yoga.

If asana is too easy, where’s the need for that concentration? Perhaps that’s a “next level” of yoga — concentrating despite the lack of obstacle. That sounds like yoga for the next life, though.

Posted by Steve

Published by


Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

One thought on “The difficulty of asana”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s