Letting Go of Strugglasana

How to put an end to over-exertion, whether physical or emotional.

Deven Sisler is a Wanderlust presenter. Join her and other luminaries at an event this year! Find out more about festivalsFind out more about 108s


Our culture is good at working hard to work hard.

It’s a concept that has seeped into yoga. “Strugglasana” is clenching your teeth, flaring the nose while breathing too heavily, or holding the breath during your yoga practice. It is practicing without a trusted teacher to reveal the subtlety beneath the asana. It can lead to hypertension in overworked muscles, and even strains and injuries or emotional burnout. Cutting off another driver because you are late for yoga class? Frustration because you can’t get that arm balance or touch your toes yet? Annoyance that the substitute is a substitute? That is Strugglasana too. Letting go and allowing flow on your mat will help you do the same in the rest of your life.

Santosha, the yogic concept of contentment, comes before and is a foundation of Tapas, or the fire of commitment in yoga philosophy and ethics. Developing contented acceptance, even a little smattering of gratitude for your body and asana practice, will alleviate a lot of excess exertion. Release what you think your practice should look like and celebrate what it is.

Couple your yoga practice with a mindfulness practice like meditation, yoga nidra, or restorative class this month. These have a very different energetic quality that can shift your perspective and awareness.

Listen to your breath. Can you keep a consistent cadence through your whole practice? Be even, steady, full. Be curious as to what your breath can reveal about where you can release tension and where you can better focus your attention. From our first breath to our last, this is the relationship that we can take most for granted—and learn from the most.

Tell a trusted yoga teacher you would like personal feedback on your practice or book private sessions. Yoga was practiced one-on-one, a student dedicated to a single teacher, for hundreds of years. Group classes have stripped us of this intimacy. Inviting focused attention can open the door to make subtle changes with profound results.

By cultivating acceptance and gratitude, mindfulness, steady breath, and subtle changes, your yoga practice will evolve in the sweetest way. Letting go to flow while unlocking a greater potential that you cannot even imagine will annihilate the strugglasana mentality.

devenA senior certified AcroYoga teacher Deven is known for her joyful, playful approach to partnership and collaboration, and her articulate teaching. An E-RYT 200 and CRYT yoga teacher, she has trained with international master teachers for the past 12 years in yoga, thai massage, and acrobatics. An outdoor enthusiast, she weaves her experience and on and off the mat into creative, relaxing and inspiring classes for adults, children and families. Her perspective through the lens of yoga and acrobatics heightens kinesthetic and proprioceptive awareness; it cultivates trust, communication and community building. She offers a holistic approach to exploring biomechanics and the subtle body through movement, sound and her training in Body-Mind Centering.