Recently, I read where a seasoned Yoga teacher, with ‘impressive’ credentials was asked "What does Yoga mean to you?.   Her answer surprised me…

One of the main foundations of Yoga is Swadyaya, often translated to study of scripture, but can also mean study of the self, in relation to the teachings.

It’s important to listen very-carefully in class.  As your practice becomes seasoned,  fine-tune your Viveka, or discernment as well.

What you’re hearing in class is one persons view, or suggestion of what might be good for your practice.  You must weigh that with skillful Swadyaya, self study, to make the practice your own. 

Too-early this morning I was sub-teaching a class, got distracted by my ipod,  and told the class to rise into Setu Bhandasan, the bridge pose. Thing is, they were all lying flat on their bellies. There was a visceral pause, then I realized what I had said.  

The Vinyasa-logjam was good for a laugh, and was a perfect teaching for us all.  I talked a bit about Swadyaya, and how teachers are fallible, and how me must take responsibility for our Yoga, for our experience in class.  

Don’t ‘audit’ the class.  Dig deep.  Yoga from the inside out.

Know when to color outside the lines.  If your back is sore and you hear "Bow pose"  perhaps a low-Cobra is more-appropriate. Be careful not to over-indulge in softening the practice., we still need to challenge ourselves, and steep our Yoga in Tapas.

So, the teacher I mentioned earlier, answered the question:

"What does Yoga mean to you…"

with a quote from a famous Yoga teacher.   Huh?

Yes, quotes can be powerful teachers,

but it’s what someone else said!  

So, as a teacher committed to helping people find their own truth, I ask.  "What does Yoga mean to you?"    

Please, take a moment to sit in Swadyaya, and type in a comment, your perspective could be just what someone else needs to hear.

Om Shanti, I’ll see you in class.


3 thoughts on “Swadyaya”

  1. Yoga to me is the freeing of my mind, body and soul. I always have a release of emotions and stress during yoga, and then I can find my center and peace. It is also a discovery of my self and how beautiful my body can feel in the many poses. At first some poses seemed frustrating to me but the more I indulge in my practice the more I begin to love every pose and embrace the feelings in my body and mind.

  2. I think of it like this… If my brain is a chalk board, I am writing on it all day and all night…little messages to myself, lists, reminders, judgements, jokes, memories, worries, stresses, etc. It gets really cluttered, and hard to read everything.

    Yoga sort of erases the chalk board and leaves this open space. Not permanently…sometimes not even for longer than it takes me to roll up my mat. While I am TRYING to focus on my movement and breathing, the board is erased. And as these things are erased it can evoke an emotional release and an over all calming effect. Then, I can go ahead and start writing on the board again…but this time I can more easily read what’s being written. I gain a little more clarity and awareness of what’s happening on that board.

    I think that’s the only way I can really describe it.

  3. John,
    Your comments and writing is on par.
    (Like the US Open.)
    I teach yoga full time and have found that I only enjoy teaching from the perspective of teaching myself. My own self-study is what I have to offer. Otherwise, it's all someone other persons findings, words, experience, gossip and ideas.
    I appreciate your post because it reminds me that there are other yoga teachers out there tired of the "Famous" quote or the famous teacher…I find that very arrogant and makes me go "Yuck". I hate when yoga teachers try and sound all "I got the truth".
    I find that the most helpful and honest I can be and do as a teacher is offer that which I am working on or any shred of wisdom or uncertainty I'm learning.
    The writing of my own story. Being the author of my own life.
    Thanks for your writing.

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