Know Thy Self – What’s Yoga Got to Say About It?

Posted by on Aug 9, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

After doing yoga for a long time, I’ve come to realize that there’s more to yoga than meets the eye. When you start doing yoga– it’s all about studying the poses, but the longer you practice, the more you end up studying yourself. This is when you begin to practice svadhyaya, or self-study.

Study Yourself

A Little Yoga Philosophy

The Yoga Sutras, a seminal collection of yogic texts, outline an eight-limbed path for purifying the body and mind that includes a series of ethical rules: the yamas (social restraints) and niyamas (self-disciplines). Svadhyaya is a niyama focused on self-reflection, which is essential for personal evolution the ultimate goal of yoga.

Yoga, which means to yoke or unite, was developed to give people systematic practices to peel back the layers of themselves so they would reconnect with their sacred, eternal nature. The longer we’re on the planet, the easier it is to lose touch with our sacred self and become enmeshed in the drama of our life stories. We forget our inherent connection and often focused more on the things that disconnect us.

The Disconnect

The growing momentum around black lives matter, gay lives matters, police lives matters is a constant reminder of our divisions. It’s important at this time to remember the power of connection. That starts with owning the things within us that cause us to feel disconnected from a sense of well-being. Those ‘things’ like a feeling of unworthiness, loneliness, fear, etc. tend to hide out in our ‘shadows’. Things in the shadow usually have a way of surfacing.

We’ve all been in situations where we avoided an uncomfortable confrontation hoping we could bottle our feelings up. The next thing you know, you blow up. Or maybe some deep held biases ingrained in you as a child prevent you from embracing an experience that would have helped you to grow. We all have our stuff (our beliefs about what happened, who we are, and our capabilities) and we bring it with us onto our yoga mats.

Reconnect by Tuning-In

On your mat, you have a precious opportunity to momentarily step away from your phone, the media, and your life. Why not use this time to tune-in to you and see what stuff is coming up? This is when we learn the power of svadhyaya (self-reflection).

The more we bring our true beliefs and emotions into the open, the more opportunities we have to strengthen our witness so we see our life from a broader perspective. Cultivating the witness enables us to make conscious choices instead of operating on autopilot, allowing knee jerk reactions to run our lives.

Be A Witness For Your Life

Being a witness is not the same thing as being a judge. A judge is critical, looking to assign fault. Cultivating the witness requires self-compassion - often times we did the best we could with what we were working with. We are more than our stories and we have the power to tell a new one. But first – you must know thyself because you cannot transcend what don’t understand.