Before one of H.S. Arun’s classes in this past weekend’s workshop, he mentioned that Sukhasana (happy pose) and Svastikasana (cross pose) were different poses when instructing a student about another topic. Another student asked him “you mean ‘firelog’ pose? He laughed and said “there is no such thing as a firelog pose, that’s made up.” I asked him, “what is the difference between Sukhasana and Svastikasana?” He said “it’s in the feet,” and then moved on without explanation.
In the next day’s class, he built a whole sequence around the two poses. The short of it is that in Sukhasana the feet are passive, in Svasktikasana the feet are active. But there is much more to the story than that.
Student Chris was gracious enough to model these to poses after class today. Here is Sukhasana:
From this angle you see that the feet are passive. From this next angle you see what happens to the spine.
Her left knee is slightly higher than her right which causes a subtle curve in the spine, or as Arun said “it looks like the student has scoliosis.”
Now here is Svastikasana:
You can see the feet are now active. That gives this corresponding effect to the spine:
You can see that her knees are now even and her spine is correspondingly straighter.
So should we throw out Sukhasna because it is not as symmetrical? Of course not. One of Sukhasna’s great features is that it is passive, unlike Svastikasana. That makes it more appropriate for chanting the invocation to Patanajali, or reciting mantras as there is a receptive element to the pose.
On a side note, Svasti, or Swasti denotes “well being” in Sanskrit. Unfortunately, the symbol of Swasti was stolen and used as a symbol of hatred, whereas before it was a sacred symbol of both Asian Indian and Native American cultures.
Definitely not firelog pose!