Each month, we're exploring one of the niyamas, or foundations of self-betterment. April's theme is svadhyaya, the practice of self-study. This is not narcissism, but a curious exploration of the elements of our moment-to-moment experience that make up that mysterious phenomenon we label "myself".
Svadhyaya arises in our yoga practice out of necessity, but we can accelerate our growth if we take up this study of Self consciously. For example, to refine my postures, I must learn how my bones and muscles work together. I must discover how my breath interacts with my physical effort. To remain steady and comfortable in my postures, I must examine how my mind works - either to assist me or hinder me. And then sometimes in the final relaxation, I end up in a place where my body seems to disappear and my thoughts subside. What is left? Who am I now?