When we practice yoga we often reach for the full expression of the pose. When this is out of our reach we may struggle or even have a mind-set that we can never get there, so give up.
In Hatha Yoga practice we should follow these simple steps. First focus on breathing, keep it smooth, as long as possible, and even. Then focus on your alignment and move into the pose. Keeping the breath, keeping our focus, we find ourselves in a place of calm and stillness. Well that is the intention anyhow! And when we start with a purpose we can find it.
This advice comes from the Yoga-Sûtra, an ancient script written in the second century A.D. by Patanjali, who most likely was more than one sage but given the same name. In the second section, Sutra 46, as well as smooth and steady breathing, the other two essential ingredients in yoga practice are steadiness (Sthira) and comfort (Sukha) In the pose (asana). Below is the sutra (literally “thread”).
Posture (āsanam) (should be) firm (sthira) and agreeable –pleasant– (sukham)||46||
Ultimately the yoga path given in the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali is a guide to clarity of mind that can be reached by regular practice.
As Belgian scholar and yogi Frans Moors writes in his own translation of the Yoga-Sûtra: “When it is understood properly and applied correctly, Yoga is a precious aid for human and social evolution. It suggests that a reflective, respectful behaviour, a responsible outlook and a peaceful way of performing actions pave the way towards harmony amongst people and a constructive future.”