The journey of self-study can open up a world of opportunities. Svadyaya: Taking your practice off the mat.

Photo by Eneko Uruñuela on Unsplash

Pronounced “s-wadyee-ya-ya” this is the practice of self-study. A component of the Niyamas or personal ethics from the 8 limbs of Yoga, it is part of the journey of taking our practice off the mat. 

Commonly referred to as the study of spiritual or sacred texts, Svadyaya provides the potential to explore not only our Yoga and or spiritual practice, but also the deeper layers of Self, even posing the age-old questions of who am I? How can I serve the world? And what does it all mean anyway? 

Once we start to dig in, the possibilities are endless. However, we can also take a step back, a nice big breath in and out, pause, check-in and be aware of ourself right now in this moment – this is also Svadyaya. Becoming more aware of Self, with a capital S. Who we are within, when all our other hats are off and concerns with daily tasks are put aside, Svadyaya, or self-study, is the journey within. 

With a lot of extra time on our hands over this last year, perhaps you have been practicing Svadyaya without even realizing. Every time we pivot to something new, every time we re-evaluated our current systems, in particular our value systems and ways we want to show up for ourself and others in the world is the practice of Svadyaya. 

Every time we pause to re-connect with our self, meditate or journal this is all a part of self-study. Sometimes I think of this as the ultimate self-care, as rather than just doing nice things for ourself, we are really questioning the intent or purpose behind it. 

Svadyaya helps us to shine the light into the shadows and carries us through a path of emotional healing. Whereas Tapas (discipline) helps set us up on the path, Svadyaya is the fine tuning that happens all along the way. 

Rather than raising our intellect in the way that school courses or certificate programs do, Svadyaya is about raising our spiritual intellect. It is the continuous quest of self-discovery and living an authentic life. More deliberately, this is a practice we can do each day. 

Tips for Self Improvement Study

Read uplifting books. This can be a religious or spiritual based text, or it can also be something more modern such as Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly or Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now

Watch a TED talk. There are thousands of uplifting and inspiring talks and so many that I love, but a recent one that really resonated for me was TheArt of Being Yourself by Caroline McHugh. 

Meditate. Take time each day to simply be quiet with yourself and through this you will quickly find your ability for self-awareness grows.

You might also enjoy this article on how to spring clean your mind.

Author: Lisa Greenbaum, E-RYT 500 and C-IAYT yoga therapist, has worked with countless individuals by using yoga to release trauma, find ease from chronic pain and tension and develop a deeper connection to Self: mind, body and spirit. She has over 750 hours of yoga education and logged 4,000+ teaching hours. She is also a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer with canfitpro, and a Women in Fitness Association (WIFA) Global Ambassador.

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