I was feeling “off” the other day and my mind went down the usual bunny hole of questioning whether it was because I ate the wrong thing the day before, or maybe it was the planetary alignments, or perhaps I have made bad decisions in my life, or I am just flawed. I am inquisitive by nature which serves me well in some endeavors (fixing things, learning new skills, etc.) Being curious is something I actually really like about myself. In my best moments, it’s clear to me that some questions don’t have answers, yet I tend to ask “why” or “how” about anything and everything and I do that thing of asking myself questions as if I should know the unknowable.
The ninth blossom of the Yamas and Niyamas garland is called Swadyaya (pronounced swahd-yah-yah) which loosely translates to self-study. This Niyama, studied for the month of February, reminds me of the maxim “know thyself.” Given that the Gentle Yogis practice community has already been on a journey of “self-study” for many months now, we have to dig a little deeper to know what the invitation of Swadyaya is about. First, we review.
Gentle Yogis have completed 683 days of daily Gentle Breath Practice Chair Yoga. Congrats to those who have completed a day, a week, a month or many months of practice.
January was the eighth month of daily group study after the practice. This month was a fascinating, challenging, and often revelatory exploration. We’re on the third Niyama, Tapas, usually referred to as self-discipline. In his book Nourishing The Teacher, Danny Arguetty refers to it as dedication.
By M. Patricia Diaz, Dynamic Gentle Yoga Teacher and Memoir Author The first class I took with Rudy was like a walk on the moon. Slow, very slow motion. I didn’t know at the time that his class would at some point rise to the level of “out of this
I took my first yoga class in an outdoor garden with friends after work in 2000. Those evenings were the best part of a stressful time: I was recently engaged to be married, planning a wedding, and looking for somewhere to live.
Looking back over the past 20 years, I see that yoga has helped me to feel steady as difficult situations keep coming, as Rudy says: “life is relentless”. A yoga class is one of my favorite places to be (in addition to college campuses and airports). I always feel better at the end of a yoga class.
The sparkling jewel of Santosha (contentment) invites us to drop into awareness of our current experience in the space between the thoughts. Contentment is available at the moment I become aware of what I am experiencing and discover that I have a choice. In one moment, there may be a
This month, the Gentle Yogis community-time conversation made a transition. In The Yamas and Niyamas, Debra Adele describes the shift from the Yamas to the Niyamas as being similar to a shift from creating an adult relationship with others to creating an adult relationship with ourselves. We began this past month to explore the Niyamas. The Niyamas are considered guidance for how to approach personal practice. There are two ways to approach the sequence of the five Niyamas. There is a genius to the sequence as listed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra; we studied Saucha/Purification in November and will proceed with Santosha/Contentment in December.
What an incredible journey! These past few months have been an immense process of self-study and self-discovery. With each new yama I wonder which unseen or long forgotten part of myself I will encounter next.
First, we began with ahimsa, do no harm in thought, word or deed. Ahimsa invites me to ask, may my thoughts, words and deeds be kind to others and most importantly to myself. May this study of the yamas and niyamas be a kind journey, shining the light of awareness as guided by this ancient text, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. We have been taking these steps with compassionate self-observation as Swami Kripalu has suggested as best we can.