Samasthiti

Samasthiti. It is a Sanskrit word that can be translated to equal, evenly, balanced support or steadiness. It was also the first topic we discussed in my previous week of yoga teacher training. In a literal, yoga application sense, it is positioning yourself at the top of your yoga mat in mountain pose. With you eyes closed, you take a few moments to focus and steady your breath. It is crucial that you do this prior to beginning your asana practice (the poses). The moment I read the word, my whole body lit up. This gorgeous word completely summed up the intention I had set out for myself almost a year ago.

As a projector who is also a vata mind, I have so much activity constantly happening in my head that if I’m not mindful, I can easily fall victim to anxiety, stress or depression. I also energetically tap into the energies of those around me, and if everyone is giving off low vibes, I’m the first one to pick them up. I used to work at a law firm, which is a highly stressful and rarely satisfying environment to be around. It took a serious toll on my health. I was desperate to get my symptoms under control and get out of my head and into my body. Knowing how badly I needed to ground that excess vata energy, I was intuitively drawn to yoga and meditation.

When I first started getting into yoga, like with most things, I rushed into my practice in a very masculine, “let’s crush this” mentality, approaching it like any other physical activity. I was committed solely to seeing how far I could bend, how long I could hold my pose and how much sweat I broke into … if the girl next to me happen to break for water before I did, that was just a perk. I was completely in my head and cut off from my body and my breath, which was completely contrary to what I was trying to achieve.

Somewhere along the journey, as I incorporated mediation into my practice, I began to shift my focus during asana. I slowly started waking up to how it felt to be in my body and the sensation of my breathing in my chest and belly.  My breath became my anchor and the rest of what I had previously fixated on in class, began to fade away. As it turned out, what I was trying to resolve on my mat started to spread out beyond the mat and into the outside world. What you accomplish in one space will begin to affect the other spaces and well and my energy began to feel more balanced.

Energy is constant and it never happens in a vacuum. If you overexert yourself in one place, you inevitable will have less energy to offer in other places. It is always so important to take the time to get still and centered. That is why the samashiti is so crucial. It is a declaration to the universe and to yourself, that you are showing up for yourself and that you are committed to pursuing balance in your life. Just as there are energies trying to distract us in our daily lives, those same energies will try to keep us away from our spiritual practices as well. There is endless wisdom to be found in our practices. There is knowledge to be found in our breath. Beyond everything else, there is love and power to be found in granting ourselves permission to slow down and go inward.  

Julia Piantini