Svadyaya, one of the Niyamas, is a beautiful Sanskrit word that means ‘reflecting on our self’, or self-study. Traditionally, Svadyaya has been the study of sacred texts that gave us insight into our life. Besides the texts it means even more for our practice on and off the mat. TKV Desikachar described it as ‘anything that helps us understand ourselves’, and is the foundation of a personal practice that truly reflects our deepest needs and aspirations.
Honest self-inquiry isn’t always easy – it requires a willingness to be compassionate with our self, and look beneath our mind’s rationalizations. Each moment – every practice, every relationship – can be a mirror we look into to see our self, reflecting some truth back to us, giving us feedback about our strengths and the places we need to grow and tend to. If we are willing to look at our self with the compassionate eyes of love, there is always information there for us that will guide our practice at every level.
Our svadyaya helps us choose the right tapas, or discipline, based on where we need to develop and the aspirations we have for our growth. When our tapas and sadhana, or practice, is based on our ongoing practice of svadyaya, it supports balance and becomes true self-care. And self-reflection is not a selfish endeavor! As we look within and come to understand ourselves better, we naturally have more compassion and understanding for others. As we care for ourself in a positive way, we naturally become more available and loving to others. What a blessing!