I’m just nearing the end of my first week of fully integrating the first 3 stages of the Niyama practice (the do’s of yoga). This past week has been fantastic. I have more energy, feel focused and overall just feel better about myself.
I admit the largest reason for these changes was that I’ve been doing a thorough cleaning/cleansing of both my home and body. Every day, I’ve taken a garbage bag full of stuff from my home which I happily donated to various charities around town. The scary thing is, I still have so much stuff. This really got me thinking about how I could learn to leave with less. I had recently read an article in Macleans magazine, about living with less. I was amazed by the story and the author’s self-reflection bravery. Especially when I reviewed all of the stuff that I have in my household. This week when I continue with involving Niyama in my life, I will reflect on the reason for all of the stuff.
This takes me to the fourth area of Niyama: Self-study or Introspection (Svadhyaya).
This week, I’m going to consciously take the time to reflect on both my actions and intentions. The practice of Svadhyaya” reflection of the self,” can be done in several ways. When practicing the asanas, I find it’s really important to continually remain aware of this part of Niyama. It is so easy to become distracted by the actions of others. In most areas in our lives, we are competing. When we practice Svadhya, our only competition is with ourselves.
I’m going to spend a lot of time becoming aware on how my body is feeling, at the moment. Do not pay attention to what others in the room are doing. Do not compete with others. This week I’m going to try to recognize where the power and energy reside in my body, cultivate the positive and try to find the source of the negative (back aches be gone).
I’m going to spend some time each day reflecting. As a part of this reflection process, I’m going to get back to journaling. I’ve always found journaling therapeutic. However, lately, I haven’t done a lot of reflecting (instead I’ve been focused on just getting things done) The irony behind this is when I don’t take the time for self-reflection, I get a lot less done.
Another piece of the self-puzzle that I will work on is our interconnectedness. I loved this phrase from Judith Lasater, “When we practice svadhyaya, we begin to dissolve the illusory separation we often feel from our deeper self, from those around us, and from our world.”
I really believe that when we make a conscious effort to become aware of our own feelings and thoughts, we really begin to understand how they impact those around us. Self-study really helps show us how connected we are to each other.
Isvara Pranidhana (Surrendering to God)
This is the last piece of the practice of Niyama. Yoga is not normally portrayed as a religious pursuit. However, this part of Niyama will be very individualized, as it is about surrendering to a higher being. I’ve just begun reintroducing religion to both my life and that of my children. For me, this practice is about recognizing that there is something beautiful and awe-inspiring, a greater power, than what we can see with our own eyes.
This week, I’m going to involve Isvara Pranidhana in my life, by doing actions simply for the sake of doing something that is nice or good. The key to making this a true surrender to God, is by letting go the pride and recognition that comes with a good deed.
The best way that I’ve seen this interpreted as choosing to do good things for the pure sake of doing them. This practice means letting go the need for external approval and recognition. Instead all our positive actions become gifts to a higher power.