Discovering who we are…
The 4th of the 5 Niyamas, Svadhyaya is the sanskrit word meaning, self-reflection or self-study. If you are new to the practice of asana on the mat, and you continue with this yoga practice, I am confident that you will soon find yourself on a journey of svadhyaya whether this was your conscious intention or not.
This is what yoga does…
Yoga awakens you to your true self, little by little, breath by breath. The postures or asana take you on a physical journey, which allows for a deeper connection with self on a mental, emotional and spiritual level.
Let me briefly mention here – as I am aware that the mention of spirituality can cause difficulty for people – You do not have to be religious to practice yoga, nor will the belief in any one religion conflict with your yoga practice. This will be discovered through your own yogic journey. Yoga provides a practical guide to living within which all belief systems can find space. A natural awakening will take place as you commit to your practice on the mat and this will inevitably flow into your daily life off the mat. You will become thirsty for knowledge, for more – despite being unsure about what exactly that ‘more’ looks like.
Through my own yoga journey, I have discovered many things, including:
- It’s all yoga.
- Life is suffering
- Suffering is a delusion
- We’re all messed up
- We’re all perfectly perfect
- Life is full of dualities
Mind you, these discoveries ebb and flow in my understanding; bringing another dichotomy: that of knowing, yet not fully knowing. Or another way of expressing this would be – knowing, yet not fully applying this knowledge.
This is where the eight limb path comes in
Or at least for today specifically, Svadhyaya .Self-study & self-reflection bring us deeper into our yoga practice. Through meditation, the study of scholarly texts (The Bhagavad Gita, The Yoga Sutras etc), our asana practice and the exploration of our own personal experiences with the yamas and niyamas, we are practicing svadhyaya.
I have been given the absolute gift and had the amazing pleasure of meeting and getting to know countless incredible people through my yoga practice and teacher training. All of whom, in their own way have deepened my level of understanding, my level of svadhyaya.
Tomorrow, I am so excited to begin the svadhyaya book club with a small group of those amazing people!
Since I consistently have at least 3 or 4 books on the go at any one time, almost always related to yoga, holistic health & wellness, I thought, why not bring together like minded people to share in this learning and discovery and TaDa! A book club is formed… I won’t give away my first suggestions for the book club yet, however, I do promise to keep you posted on the final selections and (with the help of my fellow book club girls) we’ll provide an honest & hopefully helpful review of each.
The inspiration to begin this particular book club came, ironically, from reading the book Awake in the World, by Michael Stone. It is a beautifully written and inspiring read, full of insight and wisdom. It will bring awareness and understanding to anyone who takes the time to read it, whether you feel you currently practice yoga or not. It is a collection of essays and speeches that Michael has shared over the past several years, providing a sense of interconnectedness and compassion for the self, for others and for our planet. It is a book, which I believe will stay with you for a long time after you physically finish reading – one that you may find yourself reflecting back on and re-reading; a perfect example of and resource for Svadhyaya.
I look forward to sharing my discoveries and insights with you and sincerely hope that you in turn will share with me your own discoveries and insights into all things learning, life and yoga.
Here’s to the journey – Namaste.