svadhyaya: self-awareness through self-study

Self-study opens up possibility

Your teacher can open the door, but you must enter by yourself.  -Chinese Proverb 

Svadhyaya is a sanskrit word that means “self-study.” In the eight-limbed path, it is one of yoga’s five Niyamas and it is fundamental in yogic philosophies.

Svadhyaya takes real effort in order to gain greater insight into our own true nature. For most of us, this is a paradigm shift, as we grow up spending nearly all of our time studying everyone else. We are more concerned about what others think about us, instead of focusing on our own opinion.

Poses on the mat give us direct feedback and we realize insights into ourselves. To “realize” means to “make real.” Therefore, Svadhyaya is the practice of realizing that our life is really real. While yoga is a practice, it is not a dress rehearsal. This realization of full awareness influences the way we live.

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Here are four benefits we experience in Svadhyaya yoga (self-study):

1) Time in quiet contemplation allows us to reflect on all that we’ve learned up to this point in our lives. Self-study is the observance that every event in our lives has offered its lessons. Soon, we begin to see the habits and events that have shaped us. We are then free from being prisoners of our past, and are able to design our future!

2) Anchoring in our physical bodies helps us to be present with ourselves, to ask the right questions, and to listen to the answers: Who am I? What do I want for my life? What do I need? What is important to me? Why am I here? These are what form our intentions for making our dreams reality. They put us in contact with the world of possibility. 

3) Self-study is based in honest, unconditional self-love. Just like Margery Williams’ The Velveteen Rabbit, a stuffed rabbit can only become real when its owner truly loves it. As the Skin Horse tells the Velveteen Rabbit,”…Once you are Real, you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.” Eventually as a result of unconditional love, the rabbit becomes real to everyone and lives and hops around with all the other rabbits in the forest. It discovers its true nature and celebrates it!

4) When we study ourselves, we enable the “real” us to emerge. This becomes the place from where we live our lives, thereby harnessing the power of manifestation. We see the world through a prism of “what is possible,” energized by love. 

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Self-study + self-love = Infinite Possibility

“Everyone, when they are young, knows what their destiny is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives.” – The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

To depart

May these words inspire you to regain the clarity that awaits you. I believe you can see yourself as you really are! Love yourself, love your day, love your life!