Yoga, as described in the yoga sutra, is made up of an eight-fold path, each limb is meant to guide us to living a happier, more purposeful life in the now. The second limb of the eight-fold path, niyama, is concerned with discipline – how we treat ourselves (whilst the first one, yama, focuses on how you treat other and the outer world), or begin to cultivate the inner being. These are sometimes called observances, the do’s, or the thou -shalts.
Svadhyaya is the fourth niyama and translates pretty much directly to self-study and I am pretty sure that everyone who has ever been to a yoga class have realized that yoga is a lot about listening and feeling one’s own body. Those first few moments of stillness as we arrive on the mat trying to bring our attention to our breath and body, settling in to the here and now.
Studying who we are, being curious to have we act, react and think is not always the easiest task. Stepping onto our yoga mat without any distractions from our phones or TV’s and trying to pay attention.
Everyone can thoughtlessly move their bodies through different poses with their head miles away but to connect to your breath, allowing feelings and thoughts to come and go, exploring how your body and mind reacts to each other’s fluctuations, that is yoga.
Pay attention to when your breath feels quick and shallow, dig deeper, is there something stressing or worrying you? Or are you pushing too hard in your pose and your body is trying to tell you to slow down? When your breathing deepens and slow down, ask yourself why, what in this moment is making you feel safe?
Knowing how things make you feel and noticing the signals your body is sending is the first step in getting to know yourself. The next step is asking yourself why. Why does this makes me tense or stressed, why am I pushing so hard in this pose, why is this making me happy/angry etc.
Sometimes our body sends us signals but once we dig a little deeper we realize our first reaction might not have been true, practicing Satya – Truth is a big part of Svadhyaya. So instead of reacting outwards straight away, take a step back next time somethings upsets you, notice exactly how you are feeling (disrespected, stressed, hurt, angry etc.) and ask yourself why, what in this situation is making you feel this way.
Sometimes learning about ourselves can be quite uncomfortable, our flaws and mistakes become visible, try not to shy away from past pain, sit with yourself and breath, explore and learn how to become the best version of yourself.
In this week’s classes, we will ground down through our feet, building a foundation to rise. We will open up our hips to release stress and try to pay attention to the role the centre of our body plays in our whole wellbeing.