I feel especially happy to be writing this month’s blog. Firstly, it’s OCTOBER. The best month of the year, in my opinion! And secondly, this month we are focusing on one my favorite concepts from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: that of Svadhyaya, or self-study.
The actual practice of Svadhyaya is talked about in numerous ways. It can come through the inward-turning experience of meditation. It can come through the study of scripture or philosophy, inviting us to see ourselves through new lenses.
And as you’ve probably experienced, a good dose of Svadhyaya can come to you in your yoga practice as well. When we use our practice as a vehicle for self-reflection, your mat becomes your personal lab experiment. What kind of response—physical, emotional, or otherwise—do you notice when you practice your favorite pose? What about your least favorite? How do you talk to yourself when you struggle? How do you talk to yourself when you shine?
I’m actually writing this a little before the beginning of the month, one day after the Fall Equinox. As the light and the dark come into equal measure, we might take it as an invitation to a similar balance: turning in to the quiet, dusky spaces of our internal awareness allows a peace-making process with ourselves. We can choose to be friendly to ourselves there, acknowledging what’s present without berating ourselves or getting caught up in what we “should” be feeling. We can be generous and kind with ourselves.
Turning back outward, that inner orientation toward kindness becomes something we can share with other people. So we hope to make it clear: self-study is emphatically *not* self-absorption. It is instead the practice of listening in to your heart’s authentic voice, so that you can speak from that place. With awareness. With compassion. Things the world could stand to enjoy a little more of.
As we move into this slowly-darkening time of year, we hope the shorter days and cooler temperatures might inspire a little bit of this self-reflective practice. Make a little time for it. Sit in a quiet place with no distractions, and just listen. Take 20 minutes on your yoga mat without a plan, and just see what kind of movement and feeling emerges. On a day when strong emotions hit you, try journaling to bring them into some focus. These are all excellent modes of self-study.
We’d love to hear what the practice of Svadhyaya means to you! Please do comment below. Self-study, after all, becomes all the more meaningful when it allows us to connect with other people. Thanks for connecting with us!
Much love and thanks for reading,
Erin H/Indi Yoga