BKS Iyengar in his Light on the Yoga Sutras commentary describes “Svadhyaya (Self Study) as the repetition of sacred mantra and the study of the mind.” Most translations, his included, also acknowledge that direct translation of Svadyaya brings forward the idea of studying sacred text as integral to self study. Since most of the Iyengar students I encounter spend the majority of any practice time in a physical practice, I think it wise to consider how much we can learn about ourselves through self reflective intentions during our asana practice. I might consider how I choose the poses I practice? Is it in an easy, casual way? Is it with some amount of tapas? Am I sloppy when I practice? Do I never undertake a home practice for fear of making mistakes, and thereby deprive myself of ANY practice? Do I promise to practice and not get there? What do I learn as I notice myself in practice, in other words?
I might also consider HOW I am in my life, and choose asanas that balance my less desired tendencies. If I am scattered and spacey, perhaps an extended tadasana, or mountain pose will bring me into a place of earthy, grounded connection, more solidity, more clarity. If I am needing other perspectives, perhaps I should do some extra inversions… the possibilities are endless. Exploring Svadyaya within the mainstay asana work can provide rich exploration, and perhaps deeper motivation to HAVE and sustain a practice.

(photo credit: a_alkhawarizmi’s photostream on flickr.com)