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Friday, September 30, 2011

Self Reflection (Svadhyaya)

Yoga is more then just postures. While teaching I weave in parts of the eight limbs, which is art of right living and the foundations of yoga philosophy. The second limb includes the Niyamas. Niyama means "rules" or "laws." These are the rules prescribed for personal observance. They refer to the attitude we adopt toward ourselves as we create a code for living soulfully.

There are five Niyamas. Today we are going to focus on Svadhyaya . Sva means "self' adhyaya means "inquiry" or "examination". Any activity that cultivates self-reflective consciousness can be considered svadhyaya. It means to intentionally find self-awareness in all our activities and efforts, even to the point of welcoming and accepting our limitations. It teaches us to be centered and non-reactive to the dualities, to burn out unwanted and self-destructive tendencies.
Here are some suggestions for incorporating Svadhyaya into your practice as well as your daily life:

  • While holding postures using self reflection as to your tendencies to push, hold back, favor a side, or to go quickly.
  • Throughout practice tune into the messages you are telling yourself about your abilities, your time, your focus.
  • In final relaxation what have you not let go of, are you able to relax, what thoughts creep up when trying to calm the mind?
  • Throughout the day take two twenty-minute vacations to check in mentally, meditate, say affirmations, and to reflect on all that is going on.
  • Pay attention to the tone of your voice, the positive and negative messages or thoughts used, your interactions with others, and how you carry yourself.
  • Are your decisions inline with your goals and values?
If you are like many, slowing down enough to reflect can be scary, challenging to schedule, and not pleasant. I always tell people that success comes to those who take the time to do the things that they may not want to do.

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