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Svadhyaya on the mat

Hello again! Last time, we introduced Svadhyaya, study of the Self. In this post, we will talk more specifically about practicing Svadhyaya on the mat.

In a yoga practice, you may hear things like, “observe”, “witness”, “reflect”. I often ask my students to observe their breath, their energy, or how their body feels at different points of the practice. The purpose for this is to help them bring their awareness to the moment that they are in, to experience what they are doing to connect more deeply to themselves.

Yoga is about having direct experiences. Not reading about something and imagining it. Not hearing someone else’s experience. It is about having your own experience and witnessing that.

As you move your body into a yoga posture, ask yourself, what is the sensation that you feel? Where do you feel that sensation? Who is it that feels the sensation?

Consider your body as a whole, but also as individual parts. What does the back of your knee feel like? What sensation do you experience in your toes?

Explore your breath. What are its qualities? Is it deep or shallow? Is it smooth or jagged? What sound does your breath make?

Notice what your mind does. Does it wander in poses that are less challenging for you?

To go deeper, consider, whose knee is this? Whose breath is making that sound? Whose mind is it that wanders? After your practice, you may want to journal about your observations as way to go deeper into your reflection and your self-study.

It is a practice of experiencing, of exploring and of experimenting. Because of this, yoga can never be boring. It is never the same practice twice because you are never the same individual. Your consciousness continually shifts and shapes and forms. Stretching out as an individual, and then bouncing back into the whole, like a slinky, or like the wave.

I hope you are enjoying these posts on Svadhyaya. Next time, we will take it off the mat.

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