Yoga is sometimes described as the middle path in life.
It encompasses how we think about diet, our speech, our thought patterns, our actions off the mat, and of course our actions on the mat, the asanas.
In the asanas there should be some effort as well as comfort. If there is too little effort the pose becomes passive. The mind is not engaged at all with the body. If this happens then the mind easily wanders. It might seem boring or fruitless, and then we think about the yard work that needs to be done after the class or what was said last weekend at a dinner party. There will be no progress noted during class or the days after and the practitioner may feel like there is no reason to be in yoga.
If the action of the pose is too aggressive, then there is pain in the muscle or joint that is being stressed. The mind becomes acutely focused on that part of body and wants the action to stop as soon as possible. The thoughts are negative and there is no joy in the pose. There will be soreness or pain the next day or all week and the practitioner may not look forward to returning or give up.
There is the middle way to experience each asana. Create a mild effort toward expressing the pose. This effort will be different for each practitioner of course. There should be no pain, just give yourself a sensation in the challenged area of the body. It should be an effort that can be sustained. Now the mind has a place to contentedly begin. There is no agony and no particular great joy, but the mind is present and noticing. The mind isn’t retreating to the past or projecting into the future. Once you have achieved this state of mild effort, breath into that area for a few breaths. Inhaling expanding the area, exhaling relaxing the area. With each new breath begin expanding your attention to finally include the whole body. Continue the process of inhaling to expand the body, and exhaling to relax the body. Effort and ease. Inhale, exhale. Explore the pose with your breath creating a union of the mind, body and spirit. The joy arises. This middle ground is where yoga can be found. This is where meditation in each pose is possible.