Right now all of our Mysore teachers are home and enjoying teaching and sharing the practice with you all. After six months of traveling, studying, teaching for other away-yogis, Karen, Emma and myself are thrilled to be back with you.
Our studies and teachings away have given us the perspective needed to come home fresh and ready to begin again. This process of self study “svadhyaya” (pronounced “swod-yai-ya”) is about personal reflection, self awareness and studying what yoga means. This could be through chanting and philosophical study such as reciting ancient yogic texts, and it can also mean studying anatomy and the physical and mental process of daily yoga practice. The study of yoga is a massive task and our love for the practice takes us to the ancient texts for guidance. Practice is like sugar on my tongue, the sweetness of the practice always offering something to meditate upon.
Svadhyaya is a key ingredient in the process of ashtanga yoga because in order to learn all eight limbs, one must take the time to reflect upon themselves and their own studies.
Svadhyaya is also a team member of the niyamas, the second governing limb of ashtanga yoga. There are five of them respectively: sauca, santosa, tapas, svadhyaya, and isvarapranidhanani.
cleanliness both in one’s thoughts and body (sauca),
contentment and peace with one’s self (santosa),
effort and discipline (tapas),
introspective study and interest in the ancient practices (svadhyaya),
surrendering to the divine (ishvarapranidhanani).
Svadhyaya is also a key component of kriya yoga, the yoga of action. Patanjali, the compiler of the Yoga Sutras, writes that kriya yoga is the primary place to begin a sadhana (spiritual practice). We have to have discipline to begin (tapas), self study and the time to reflect and study the practice of what we are learning (svadhyaya) and the ability to surrender to the divine and allow the process to unfold naturally (ishvarapranidhanani).
Where to begin this process? With the breath, with vinyasa, bandha, drishti and a concentrated mind! Each day one comes to the mat, there is a chance to awaken oneself to the quiet nature of the mind. By doing this over and over, we are able to wade through the churnings of the mind and and filter what is needed to maintain focus and what is necessary for us to let go. This is the ashtanga yoga method – practice, practice and take more practice. And through this journey what results is a more awakened and alert mind that is capable to see this.
Do come join us all during our Mysore practice times: 0630-1130. We are eager to share with you what we have been learning, and what the practice can do for you. And may our daily practices continue to awaken us all and bring us closer and closer to wellness and happiness.
We are continuing our studies of the yoga sutras on Wednesdays at 4pm, Fridays at 9.15 am and again on Sundays at 9.30am in the Sun Studio. Do come recite Patanjali’s yoga sutras and learn about more about svadhaya.
And for great inspiration, Richard Freeman says:
“‘The very presence of your breath and of your body is one of the most astonishing things in the universe, and it offers the continual opportunity to start over. This awareness allows us to start the entire project of our life over, to reinitiate all the threads of our thoughts, grounding it all in the immediate experience of the body. What an incredible relief it is to understand that the ultimate place of pilgrimage is right in the center of our very own heart.’