The Niyamas in Practice: Svadhyaya for Self-Study

Check Yourself.jpg

So we have made it to the third of the five Niyamas from The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, here we practice Svadhyaya, self-study.

As I write here today, I notice a subtle pressure on my neck, some sort of tension, strain that is calling to me. Of course I ignore it because there is a job to be done, a cup of coffee to drink, not to mention the laundry, dishes and we will NOT even think about the yard work that lays ahead.

Back to the neck, yeah, it did not go away, finding a distraction did not help, even eating that yummy muffin did not make it go away.... Go figure. So the intuitive self is asking me to stop, do something, the physical self says no, just get on with s**t, you gotta get things done. But somewhere in the middle is the mind layer that discerns, is questioning and needs to know why and then...BINGO! It hits me, my desk chair had broken a few days ago and is now sitting (get it?) peacefully at the bottom of a dumpster. In order to get things done, I simply pulled over a large stability ball to sit on and sure enough it is about 1 inch too short, causing slight compression on the back of the cervical spine. On to research office chairs...

2.44 Svadhyayat ishta devata samprayogah)
From self-study and reflection on sacred words (svadhyaya), one attains contact, communion, or concert with that underlying natural reality or force.
— The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

I share this store as an example of self-study. Did I need to go tot he doctor, request an MRI, go through weeks of physiotherapy? In Sutra 2.44, Pantanjali calls us to study sacred texts and scriptures and though this process we find connection to a deity that calls to us. By "reflection of sacred words" we also practice mantra, specifically Om, the sound of Universal vibration. As yogis we are looking to evolve, clear Avidya (ignorance) and find enlightenment and in so doing we may choose to journal thought, experiences, emotions, a process of digestion, clearing the mind (yup, there is Sauca again!).

In practice this week, we entered practice through mindful observation of our physical, emotional and energetic bodies  to prepare for asana practice. "Tuning in" with Om to connect our intentions, speak to the Universe, we then incorporated mindful warm up through modified Sun Salutations and challenged ourselves with many balance postures including Bird-Dog, Tree, Dancer's, Warrior III, continuing to work through Tapas with chair pose to build strength, balance but also to study the mind when we may find ourselves in uncomfortable situations. Back down on the mat we were called to a sequence of "yogi's choice" poses, essentially do what YOU want but entering these poses knowing WHY you were called to them. 

At home I would offer that practitioners pick a pose (or two) that they find challenging to do and perhaps one or two poses they really do NOT like to do. Notice how your experience and approach to these poses may be very different. My nemesis pose is Crow, I do not dislike any poses at this stage of the game, so I can enter and play with Crow, recognize some weakness in my shoulder then perhaps go hit the gym to help rebuild strength here. In the past I have had poses that I detested, namely Trikonasana, but our relationship has come 180° and now embrace the pose with open arms (and hips!).

At I wrap up with writing this evening, my neck is feeling a lot better and I that was needed was a new Sukhasana.

~Peace and Blessings