Incorporate svadhyaya (self-study) into your yoga practice with an asana, mantra, and mudra to help bring into focus the subtle and not-so-subtle ways this niyama plays out in your life.
Svadhyaya translates to "self-study" and represents our search for meaning. To incorporate svadhyaya into your own life and practice, start with the pose, mudra (hand-and-finger gesture), and mantra (a sacred utterance repeated continuously) below. Do this practice on its own, add more poses with the accompanying 10-minute video sequence, or link all of the yamas and niyamas together, one pose as a time, forming a sequence.
Svadhyaya Yoga Practice
Hold the pose, with its mudra, for 3–5 breaths, mindfully chanting, aloud or internally, its accompanying mantra.
Asana: Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
Come to a comfortable seated pose with the tops of the feet resting on opposite thighs. Sit on a block, blanket, or bolster for additional support, or take Sukhasana (Easy Pose).
Mudra: Dhyana Mudra
Bring your hands to the contemplative gesture of Dhyana Mudra by resting them, upturned, at your navel with the right hand on top. Bring the thumbs together to touch at the tips, forming a triangle. Dhyana means “meditation.”
Mantra: Tat tvam asi
Gaze at the triangle while chanting Tat tvam asi, which can be translated as “You are what you seek.” This meditative pose, mudra, and mantra allow you to observe, without judgment, the thoughts, desires, habits, cravings, and repetitive behaviors that cause you to disconnect from the Self. This wisdom is what ultimately illuminates our shadows and sets us free from the bonds of self-judgment.
Watch the video
To tie it all together or to deepen your work around svadhyaya, try this introspective 10-minute practice with Coral Brown.
YOGA JOURNAL, SEPT 2015