Svadhyaya- self study
Every month, WE highlights a specific virtue from the yogic code of ethics, as outlined by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra, the most widely regarded text on yoga. The ninth virtue in this 10-part blog series, and the theme for September at WE, is Svadhyaya- self study.
“Study thy self, discover the divine.” -Yoga Sutra II.44
Svadhyaya is the fourth niyama in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. The word itself is composed of “sva” which means “self” and “adhyaya” which means “lesson or study.” The observance of svadhayaya is the practice of self-study through reflection, reading of the sacred texts, journaling, and meditation.
As with the previous yamas and niyamas, svadhaya is underpinned by compassion, acceptance, and kindness. We do not study ourselves in order to judge, condemn, or shame. Instead, we study ourselves so we may shine the light of truth on the dark places and bring healing. The inner journey is for the intrepid explorer, it takes both courage and curiosity.
Instead of labeling our thoughts, habits, karmic patterns, and behaviors as good or bad, yoga helps us look at ourselves in a more detached way. We are intrigued- not critical. We are objective- not judgmental. As we study ourselves, we discover that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and that at our core we are all deeply connected.