The 4th Niyama Svadhyaya – Sva is the Own Self, adhyaya is to study, so svadhyaya is study if of the self.
So how do we practice it? Consider what have you learnt about yourself since you began yoga practice? How is the mystery unfolding for you? Take some time to journal on this as part of your own self reflection, it may be very revealing.
Another way we can practice svadhyaya is through study of the scriptures or any spiritual
text..Some spiritual books I recommend:
Jivamukti Yoga book - Sharon Gannon
When things fall apart – Pema Chodron
Paths to God – Ram Dass
Bringing yoga to life – Donna Fahri
The key yoga texts that we refer to in class have a lot of translations and
commentaries available. Most of the time you need a teacher to help you understand them but if you’re keen… give these a go:
Yoga sutras of Patanjali – Swami Satchitananda is probably one of the easiest to follow, also
Embodying the Yoga Sutra by Ranju Roy & David Charlton that I’ve been using in class recently, it doesn’t have every sutra but it explains all the main concepts.
Bhagavad Gita – A walk through for Westerners by Jack Hawley
Upanishads – Eknath Easwaran
Another way we can practice svadhyaya is through recitation of mantra, silently or out loud and then the integration and application of those teachings our Self. Which is why we always chant something from the yoga scriptures in Leanne’s classes, at very least the most sacred universal mantra Om.
The yoga sutra on svadhyaya, 2:44 says:
svādhyāya - to study; to read; sacred recitation; study of the self.
iṣṭa - wished, desired; liked, beloved; chosen, favourite.
devatā - image of a deity; idol; godhead, divinity.
saṃprayoga - total joining together, union with
“Through svadhyaya, self-study, mantra recitation, and worship, there is union with
one’s beloved deity.” Translation from Jivamukti chant book
So essentially, what you think, say and do becomes you! What is your personal
mantra…. i.e what is the thought or thoughts that occupy your mind the most??? That
is your mantra! Mine used to be “I’m not good enough” Sound familiar? If we spend
all our thoughts and time focusing, thinking about these things, then that is what we
become. We become “not good enough” booooo. Thankfully the Yogis are interested in
digging deeper and gave us these wonderful tools to change that. Sanskrit, the
language in which we tend to chant in class, is a vibrational language so even if you
don’t know what the heck you are chanting the vibration will still have the desired
effect in your body mind. Blockages will be removed, and endless potential may be
But you can’t just do it once… you need to have tapas with it… A burning desire and self-discipline. The good thing about mantra repetition is that it can be done anywhere…. Gardening….doing the school run (one of my personal faves) stuck in traffic, walking the dog, doing the washing up, folding your laundry…its endless (actually the dentist chair is a pretty good place too!)
I have to tell you mantra came in very handy for me on my recent road trip through Spain and France….In particular at the end of an 11 hour day of driving…we couldn’t find a campsite that was open and I had to drive another hour back on ourselves to find one…I asked the DJ (My other half!) to put on some of my fave yoga mantra and it made that last painful hour of driving in the dark and wet a lot more barrable. My heart was open and I surrendered. Here’s how the different mantras work for me (it may be different for you, but the essense will be the same)
Chanting to Kali & Durga (Goddesses, the mother) invokes courage, protection and an open heart, a touch of sweetness to my predominately masculine approach to everything in life! Try this one:
Kali Durge Namo Namah
Chanting to Krishna gives me something to offer my heart too, somewhere to hand
over my suffering and surrender to the process of life.
Shri Krishna Sharanam Mama
Chanting to Ganesh (the remover of obstacles) actually helps to move traffic out the
way….(honestly…try it!) Seriously, what it actually does is move yourself out of the way.
Om Gam Ganapataye namo Namaha
Chanting to Hanuman invokes tapas (discipline) courage, strength, determination,
and devotion to the cause even when times are hard.
Look up the Hanuman Chalisa....Its 40 verses! and What i've been learning & studying the last few years, I play it every night when my kids go sleep. It takes some serious tapas to not turn it off and walk out once they're asleep, I sit and listen to it all the way through regardless if they're asleep or not. Proof that there are ways to fit devotional practice into your already busy life.
Chanting to Sita & Ram invokes equanimity & peace.
Jaya Sita Ram Jai Jai Hanuman
There are always devotional mantras played in Leanne's classes, listen, learn and follow our spotify playlist to see how mantra resonates with you.