Comfort and JoyDec 14, 2022
Two words that evoke the best of the holiday spirit. How can yoga bring a new dimension to the ways we might usually think about them? Let’s take a look:
The English word “comfort” can be translated into a number of different Sanskrit words. But one that you might be familiar with is sukha, which means ease, comfort, or happiness. In the Yoga Sutras it refers to one of the qualities of a well-established meditation posture and, by extension your experience of physical ease and comfort in any posture at all.
You can also think about sukha in deeper sense of how your yoga practice can be a source comfort in your life. You can approach your practice as a time to temporarily let go of the demands of your daily life and consciously foster an inner environment that feels easeful and comfortable.
The term for joy in Sanskrit is ananda. It refers to the unconditional joy that is considered to be our truest essence. It’s not exactly the usual kind of joy that we experience when we do something that we really enjoy like eating a good meal or opening the perfect gift. Rather, ananda refers to the deep-seated joy that yoga teaches lives within us as our very nature.
If that’s tough to grasp, I get it. The idea of unconditional joy can be hard to relate to, especially if we think of it is as only a big, ecstatic experience of inner bliss. I’ve come to recognize ananda bubbling up to the surface of my lived experience in smaller ways, like the quiet joy that arises when I feel content with the way things are, or the happiness I experience when I consciously appreciate someone or something, or the sweetness of being present for ordinary miracles like the sunset. Indeed, anytime you experience any type of happiness, you can practice becoming aware of the feeling of joy itself and remember that the source of that joy is within you.
It’s revolutionary when you think about it. We live in a society that tells us that comfort and joy come from things we do, buy, or consume. But in yoga, they are seen as qualities that are sourced from inside, not dependant on outer objects, or the perfect conditions, or in getting what we want.
How empowering to realize, especially at this time of year, that through our mindset, we have the ability to create an inner atmosphere that comforts us and that strengthens our connection to the independent joy that lives within us.