We covered the theme of Saucha in March and Santosha in April. Next up for our May studio theme is Svadhyaya, Sanskrit for self-study. Though it may sound like a tongue twister, Svadhyaya is probably something you already do quite often. Through this self-study we are asked to observe ourselves in a non-judgmental way. Sound like something you can do? You may recall your yoga teacher asking you to notice your breath- there’s self-study! How about when you fall out of Tree Pose in a Power or Hot class and notice yourself giggle- Svadhyaya! The beautiful thing about self-reflection is it doesn’t ask us to change one bit, just to notice and become aware.
Summon Svadhyaya to advance your yoga practice
We’ve listed areas in which you’ll notice a difference once you draw awareness inward:
Breath: Start in a comfortable position, sitting or lying down. Draw awareness to the feeling of your inhales and exhales. What’s the pace of breath like; short and sharp or long and deep? How about the quality; smooth and even or shallow and forced? We all come to the mat with different injuries, different experiences, and different thoughts weighing on us. By bringing awareness into the right now and into sensation and breath, you’ll begin to feel some of that weight drop off as you simply notice what’s happening in your body between the four corners of your mat at this moment.
Reaction: The way we react to situations can teach us much about how we’re currently operating. We can study ourselves through our reactions on the mat. For example if you fall out of Dancer’s Pose what happens? Do you laugh it off, give up, tense up, feel frustrated or curious? Explore your edges and see what comes up. Then instead of labeling your reactions as good or bad, just take note. This awareness is what helps us grow.
Emotion: Being emotional means we’re human. What would life we without ups and downs? It’s when we get bogged down by those emotions however, and believe that we are those thoughts, is when emotions can be detrimental to our health. It’s so important to find time everyday (even for 5 minutes while brushing your teeth!) to notice how you’re feeling. It may be sleepy, nervous, anxious, elated, or depressed and that’s okay. Once you’re aware and tuned in to what’s happening internally, you can’t just numb out to life. From here, this place of Svadhyaya, you’re able to truly begin the practice of yoga.
About the author: Miranda Raimon is a yoga instructor, Kula studio manager and freelance health & wellness writer from the San Francisco Bay Area.