In Asana, we focus on the body’s alignment and engagement with the pose. Maintaining an intense, safe, and healthy body shape is essential, but focusing too much on the physical aspect of yoga can hinder your progress. Patanjali tells us in Yoga Sutra 2.47 to let go of our efforts and allow our focus to merge with the infinite. It allows us to achieve an inner calmness that will allow us to progress into the poses. It is not easy, but we’ve gathered a few tips and tricks to help you relax and expand your awareness when doing hatha-yoga.
Patanjali aphorisms about Asana
Patanjali’s yoga sutras are considered to be one of the foundational yoga texts. It only mentions the physical position twice. In Sutra 2.46, we learn that yoga postures should balance stillness, stability, ease, comfort, and openness. The aphorism prayatna saithilyaananta samapattibhyam discusses asana perfection, effortless effort, and merging with infinity.
We are often caught up in trying to achieve the perfect pose. Patanjali encourages us to release our efforts and allow our attention to expanding beyond our body to unite with the infinite. It takes work, especially for beginners. This state of effortless action takes time to achieve, so keep going if you can’t find it right away.
What is Prayatna Saithilya Samapattibhyam
Yoga Sutra 2.47 states: “Prayatna Shaithilya Ananta Samapattibhyam,” translated to “Perfection is achieved in an asana by total absorption of consciousness on the infinite.”
Prayatna= effort, tension, or exertion
Shaithilya= letting go, relaxing, loosen
Ananta = infinite, boundless, eternal, endless, essential nature
Samapattibhyam= uniting with, focusing, fusing, merging attention, coming together
Over the years, Sutra 2.47 was translated in many different ways. Reading other translations, commentaries, and interpretations of a sutra is better than relying solely on one source. Here are some of the most popular versions:
— Iyengar BKS.
By meditating and reducing the tendency to restlessness, posture can be mastered. — Swami Satchidananda
Ananta asana can be learned by letting go of the effort and meditating on the snake. — Swami Satyananda.
“As soon as the body surrenders all its efforts and holdings, it reveals the infinite within.” — Nischala Joy Devi
Swami Prabhavananda: “The posture becomes firm and relaxed by controlling the natural tendencies in the body and meditating on the infinite.”
Meditating and making a small effort (posture) becomes firm and pleasing. –Swami Vivekananda
Prayatna Saithilya: How to attain it
Prayatna saithilya, which means letting go or letting go without force or effort, is a state in which active and focused work is done without tension or unnecessary effort.
To reach this state, you must first learn to relax your extra effort and accept that which you cannot change. This softening, non-efforting can be cultivated by taking the body and pose in its current state and finding space within the shape. Allowing what happens naturally is the key to letting go and letting things unfold. Whether we are doing a Forward Fold or a Downward Dog doesn’t matter. Each time, we learn to accept our practice and body as it is rather than trying to change them.
You can easily get sucked into thoughts such as “I shouldn’t be able to do this,” “I am not good enough,” and “This doesn’t work.” These thoughts cause unnecessary tension in our bodies and stop us from progressing. By releasing negative reviews, we can focus our minds on the moment and find the right amount of effort for the asana.
On our yoga mats, we must also make an effort to create a good shape that is safe and aligned. We cultivate mindfulness, self-awareness, and concentration when we practice correct alignment, proper form, and the right amount of effort. By strengthening our muscles and improving flexibility, we improve overall health.
The Light on Life andB.K.S. Iyengar describes the pose’s highest state as prayatna-saithilya. In Asana, we try to penetrate the gross mass of the body by breaking up the molecules and dividing them into atoms, allowing us to see inside. Asana is divided into two parts: exertion and penetration. The latter, which involves the mind, is the most important. To achieve our goal of penetrating our minds, sweat is necessary to get things started. “Asana is best when it becomes effortless.”
Learning to let go takes patience, compassion, and time. You may become frustrated if you feel that you need to make progress. Don’t worry! You’re not alone if you feel frustrated. Positive thoughts, affirmations, and intentions can help you counteract negative emotions. Kindness, compassion, acceptance, and patience will help you cultivate a relaxed attitude toward your body and poses. We naturally become more flexible as we let go of expectations and desires.
Ananta Samapattibhyam: Experience it
The word “prayatna,” in Sanskrit, means “the ultimate truth,” “the infinite unity,” or “the ultimate oneness.” “Samapattibhyam,” which means “connected or united,” is the word used to describe this state. The state of being “connected” to the infinite, or our highest selves, is what it refers to. It is possible to achieve this by staying true to our nature, surrendering our will to divine will, and allowing the spirit to guide us.
In a state called prayatnasamapattibhyam, we are present and open to what unfolds. We do not push or resist anything. We are just being. Letting go of control is surrendering your life when you let the infinite takeover. You submit your ego to become a part of something greater than yourself.
To achieve Ananta samapattibhyam, we must first let go of our attachment to results. We must let go of our desire to master the asanas. Stop trying to prove yourself on and off your yoga mats. We must embrace the unknown and let go of fear. We must trust that the universe will guide us.
We begin to see the world differently as we let go of attachments. We start to realize that we are not separated from the world. We are not separated from those around us. Yoga is the ultimate goal: to unite with the truth of the universe and become infinitely one.