2.4. Niyama: Svadhyaya - Self-study

October 25, 2018

Continuing our exploration of the 8 limbs of Yoga (8 limbs of Yoga blog post), according to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. 

 

We have so far covered the 5 Yamas (Yamas blog post) - the restraints, relating to creating balance in our external world.

 

The 5 Yamas are:

1. Ahimsa - non-harming, non violence - (Ahimsa, the 1st of the Yamas blog post)

2. Satya - truthfulness - (Satya, the 2nd of the Yamas blog post)

3. Asteya - non-stealing - (Asteya, the 3rd of the Yamas blog post)

4. Brahmacharya - moderation, right use of energy - (Brahmacharya, the 4th of the Yamas blog post)

5. Aparigraha - non-attachment, non-hoarding, non-greediness - (Aparigraha, the 5th of the Yamas blog post)

 

Moving on to the 5 Niyamas - the 5 observations or self training recommended to create balance in our inner world.

 

The 5 Niyamas are:

1. Saucha - cleanliness - (Saucha, the 1st of the Niyamas blog post)

2. Santosha - contentment - (Santosha, the 2nd of the Niyamas blog post)

3. Tapas - commitment, daily practice, discipline - (Tapas, the 3rd of the Niyamas blog post)

4. Svadhyaya - self-study, self-inquiry, self-investigation

5. Isvara-pranidhana - surrender

 

Next up from the Niyamas is Svadhyaya - Self-study. The Yoga Sutras Chapter 2.44 relating to Svadhyaya states 'Study, when it is developed to the highest degree, brings one close to higher forces that promote understanding of the most complex.' or 'Study connects one to their chosen deity.'

 

Picture credit : unknown

 

Yoga is a journey to self-inquiry. Diving deep into a subject which is fascinating for most of us, ourselves. We become the investigator, the scientist, the student by observing our own thoughts, emotions, habits and behaviors. Through our teachers and reading we bring awareness to what patterns keep us from fulfilling our goals, dreams. 

 

Swadhyaya is a two fold practice, one part of is to study the ancient texts and scriptures on Yoga (see bellow) and the other is to study ourselves. The latter also includes understanding how the body parts function and what they need for health, how we habitually respond to situations and how these effect our physical, emotional and mental health. 

 

One of the most important qualities us Yogis/Yoginis (female Yogi) can have relating to this Niyama is to be ready to learn, to be able to break apart what we believe to be to true and to form it again based on a new perception. 

 

How can we implement this in our everyday life? My daily routine for example includes 20-30 minutes of reading or listening to a Ted talk, podcast. Now my passion is reading, so this comes very easy to me, but if you find it challenging start with just 5-10 minutes a day, maybe by listening to a motivational speaker while you cook/iron/walk/commute. This habit not only keeps our mind 'exercised' but keeps us continuously aligned with the ideas and people we would like to be aligned with. They say, 'You are what you eat' and 'You are the sum of the 5 closest person around you'. I would also like to add ' Your thoughts become what you watch, read, hear'. Choose with consciousness what input you let in through your 5 senses!

 

There are thousands of amazing books/videos on any subject you would like to dive into available to us these days at a touch of a button. I started in the blog the Recommended to Watch and Recommended to Read sections to slowly build our library up if you need inspiration, but anything that interests you is a good start. The actual reason I am taking the time and energy to write this blog is this, to get short snippets of information to you, from wherever I am on this journey of self discovery. 

 

Planning a blog post on the summary of traditional and general Yoga related books to recommend, bear with me. Here is a quick taster:

 

Traditional texts to study on Yoga:

- The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 

- The Bhagavad Gita 

- The Hatha Yoga Pradipika

 

Other book suggestion relating to Yoga: 

BKS Iyengar - Light on Yoga

David Frawley - Yoga & Ayurveda

Indu Arora - Mudras, The Sacred Secret

Paul Fox - Yoga Quest

Gregor Maehle - Ashtanga Yoga - Practice & Pilosophy

 

Here is a lovely article on Swadhyaya from Ekhart Yoga:

https://www.ekhartyoga.com/articles/the-niyamas-svadhyaya-or-self-study

 

Positive affirmations for self-study from the Kripalu Center:

'I practice conscious awareness on my yoga mat and through the day.'

'I study through reading and listening inspirational teachings.'

'I expand my self-knowledge and reflect upon my life with acceptance.'

Photo credit: Heather Stillufsen

 

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