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Effort, Awareness & Joy

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

From B.K.S. Iyengar’s The Tree of Yoga: Effort, Awareness and JoyWhen you are practising a pose in yoga, can you find the delicate balance between taking the pose to its maximum extent and taking it beyond that point so that there is too much effort creating wrong tension in the body?


Prati Pakṣabhāvanam - moving in the opposite direction


From Sutra II.33 vitarkabādhane pratipakṣabhāvanam

[B.K.S. Iyengar’s Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali] –

vitarka: questionable or dubious matter, doubt, uncertainty, supposition

bādhane: pain, suffering, grief, obstruction, obstacles

pratipakṣa: the opposite side, to the contrary

bhāvanam: affecting, creating, promoting, manifesting, feeling

Principles which run contrary to yama and niyama are an integral part of yoga.

Pratipakṣabhāvanam – represents ‘unfavourable’ or ‘undesirable’ aspects

Pakṣabhāvanam – represents ‘favourable’ or ‘desirable’ aspects

In essence… To resolve the tension between the two, each must be examined in the context of the other (the opposite).


In your practice, think about Prati Pakṣabhāvanam

and what Mr. Iyengar says in The Tree of Yoga

  • When you are over-stretching in one area, can you observe where you are giving too little attention to other parts of the body?

  • Strong muscles control the pose, but weak muscles give way.

  • When stretching in one way, do not lose the attention on the foundation; this is awareness.

  • Focusing on one point is concentration; focusing on all points at the same time is meditation.

  • If you spread the focus from the extended part to all other parts of the body, you will not lose the inner action or outer expression.

  • A sense of direction and a sense of gravity are needed in an asana. An over-stretching in some muscles causes a shift in gravity. This is due to insensitivity; imbalance can lead to injury.

  • In the beginning there is effort; as you progress, there is less effort and more awareness. This is because the energy you dissipate is less as you go in the right direction. Then the physical effort decreases and the achievement increases. Then wisdom comes.

  • When wise action comes, you no longer feel the effort as effort; you feel the effort as joy. In perfection, your experience and expression find balance and concord.

  • Alignment occurs when the mind touches the entire body from inside.


A Sequence of Seated Poses

[with references to Light on Yoga (LoY) or Yoga, A Gem for Women (Gem), where available]

  1. Pārśva Svastikāsana

  2. Supta Baddha Koṇāsana [unsupported] (plates 38-39, Gem)

  3. Ūrdhva Prasārita Pādāsana [90 degrees with block between the thighs] (plates 106-110, Gem)

  4. Supta Pādānguṣṭhāsana [90 degrees, then full pose] (plates 116-118, Gem)

  5. Pārśva Supta Pādānguṣṭhāsana (plate 119, Gem)

  6. Paṛivrtta Supta Pādānguṣṭhāsana (plate 287, LoY)

  7. Supta Pādānguṣṭhāsana with leg in Padmāsana, hand behind head (plate 286, LoY)

  8. Vṛkṣāsana (plate 2, LoY)

  9. Ardha Baddha Padmōttānāsana [1. shin on chair back; 2. chair in front for support] (plates 50-55, LoY)

  10. Prasārita Pādōttānāsana (plates 29-36, LoY)

  11. Sālamba Śirṣāsana (plates 176-185, LoY)

  12. Gomukhāsana with legs in Vīrāsana (arms, plates 80-81, LoY; legs, plates 85-88, LoY)

  13. Daṇḍāsana (plate 77, LoY)

  14. Paripūrna Nāvāsana (plate 78, LoY)

  15. Baddha Koṇāsana (plate 101, LoY)

  16. Siddhāsana (plate 84, LoY)

  17. Padmāsana [preparation] (plates 52-53, Gem)

  18. Bharadvājāsana 1 (Vīrāsana outside leg; plate 125, Gem)

  19. Bharadvājāsana 2 (Padmāsana inside leg; plate 126, Gem)

  20. Upaviṣṭha Konāsana (plates 40-41, Gem)

  21. Pārśva Upaviṣṭha Koṇāsana (plate 152, LoY)

  22. Sālamba Sarvāngāsana [with platform] (plates 223-224, 234, LoY)

  23. Eka Pāda Sarvāngāsana (plate 250, LoY)

  24. Śavāsana (plate 212, Gem)


From study notes by Jocelyn Hollmann, CIYT Level 3

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