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Why Sthira Sukham Asana
How we feel about ourselves is often apparent on the mat during difficult postures. Sthira sukham asana (with steadiness and ease) reminds us to allow the breath to be our guide. When the breath is steady and full we can begin to experience the benefits of the yoga practice. Postures like Ardha Matsyendrasana churn up our emotional centers. We build up toxins in our digestive system, especially our intestines, and emotional stress in our abdominal muscles and spine. By twisting our mid-section we open our backs and spread our kidneys while wringing out our abdominal muscles and massaging the internal organs. The breath enhances the cleansing process by drawing the navel in and up on every inhalation and twisting deeper on every exhalation. There is an added benefit when grounding the sit-bones down evenly, thus releasing the lower spine and softening the hips.
Sit comfortably. Bend the left knee and place it close to the right buttocks. Then bring the right foot outside the left knee. Take a deep inhale. Sitting tall during the exhale, take the left arm outside the right knee with fingers pointing up to the sky. Place the right hand on the floor. There is little weight in the right hand; it aids in keeping the spine long. Inhale again and sit taller. Exhale and take the twist deeper while taking the Dristi (gazing point) over the shoulder.
Gently press the elbow and knee together applying opposing forces to enhance the depth of the twist. Breathe deep from the lower abdominals all the way into the upper ribs. With each breathe, sit taller while lengthening the spine and allowing the energy to rise up and out of the crown of the head. Try not to collapse the chest but rather roll the shoulder down the back away from the ears. Draw the chin slightly in keeping the back of the neck long with the sternum lifting.