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March 10 2024 -Svadhyaya (Self Study)-Sukhasana (Easy Pose)-Spring Inspired Salad




I looked back at prior posts on this topic and, due to timing being similar each year, I find many musings on spring being in the air and pictures of crocus blooming. I found a crocus earlier this week and planned to post a picture of it. And I will, perhaps next week. This week I share a picture of beautiful peonies sent to me by my oldest friend group, most of whom I have known for 50+ years. I have had some family challenges over the past weeks that have saddened and exhausted me; my friends, who are all over the country, sent these beautiful flowers to cheer me up. So, while this week’s topic is svadhyaya, self-study, I am going to mention that I do not have to study too hard to understand the value and beauty of lifelong friendships. I am filled with gratitude and hope to bring that gratitude and joy to myself and our practice this week.

 

Our exploration of the eight limbs continues with the fourth Niyama, svadhyaya – self-study.  The word comes from the Sanskrit “sva” or self and “adhyaya” or study. This practice could include meditation or reflection. We may incorporate reading and studying yogic texts or self-help books; studying ancient texts like the bible, the Bhagavad Gita or the Yoga Sutras will add a historical and spiritual layer. All books or studies that encourage self-reflection and growth may lead us along a journey of internal and external study.  As we practice svadhyaya, we may reflect on behaviors or habits that do not serve us well, we may also discover forgotten activities or behaviors buried under the routines of daily life that bring us much joy. We may also discover new things about ourselves that move us forward more purposefully. 

 

TKV Desikachar defines svadhyaya as “Self-inquiry; any study that helps you understand yourself; the study of sacred texts.” I especially love the Bhagavad Gita and return to it often reading parts that I have highlighted and have found strong inspiration in its words.

 

As we move our yoga off the mat we will try to stay true to that self that we have studied and discovered. Remember, yoga is a practice, there is never a finish line!

Dedicating some time for this self-reflection helps us to remember and rediscover things about ourselves that are buried under our routines.  For suggestions on how to incorporate svadhyaya into your life check this article, one I am repeating from prior blogs that I still like:

 

Our Practice – Sukhasana-Easy Pose



Sukhasana is derived from the Sanskrit word "sukha" or ease and "asana" or posture. 


As we practice svadhyaya we may find ourselves trying to meditate more (or to start a meditation practice).  Starting with a short 3–5-minute meditation is perfect.  This pose is one of the most common for seated meditation.  It is also a common starting pose for many classes. 


While accessible to many, if you are seated at a desk all day or have tight hips, sukhasana can be anything but “easy”:


  • Start seated on the mat and cross your legs.  Placing a folded blanket under your buttocks to tip you pelvis ever so slightly forward/neutral may be helpful. 

  • If coming to sukhasana for meditation, perhaps sit on a meditation cushion or a stack of blankets.  You will adjust these props so that your pelvis is neutral.

  • If your hips are especially tight, placing blocks under each knee can provide support and comfort.  You could also practice against a wall providing additional spinal support.  If you do practice in one position for a long time you may want to switch the legs partway through your practice.

  • When we start in sukhasana activate the core and focus on keeping the spine long and crown to the sky.  If using the posture for meditation, either soften the gaze or gently close the eyes and begin rhythmic breathing. 

  • As we settle into the pose, we can become aware of our posture and make subtle adjustments to find the “suhka” or ease in the pose.  As we relax and breathe, we can find calming energy for our mind and body. 


For more detail on sukhasana, form and modifications see the article below by Charlotte Bell.



Meditating on Svadhyaya



We can take inspiration from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 53 which said, “What is your substance, whereof are you made, That millions of strange shadows on you tend? Since everyone one hath, every one, one shade, And you, but one, can every shadow lend”


Perhaps if shades and shadows refer to one’s essence, core or soul, he is asking what is the substance in which every individual has its existence?


“Through Meditation, the higher self is experienced” – Bhagavad Gita


“Be the silent watcher of your thoughts and behavior. You are beneath the thinker. You are the stillness beneath the mental noise. You are the love and joy beneath the pain.” – Ekhart Tolle

 

Nurturing with Food – Spring Inspired Salad



While I am headed to Utah for some winter activities, I still feel spring in the air and look forward to welcoming it with the first fresh vegetables of the season. This salad invokes spring with all its early season abundance. Enjoy!

 

 












See you on the mat!

Namaste,

Julia Anne

 

 

 

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תגובה אחת


אורח
10 במרץ

Julia Anne, whatever the source of the sadness you have been experiencing, please keep in mind all the joy, comfort and positivity you offer everyday to all who know or encounter you. Your energy balances so much of the apparent negatives that seem to be so dominant in our world today.

Have a wonderful and restorative journey to Utah. I've be dreaming of my beloved corner the SW lately. Enjoy! Spring awaits your return to RI!

לייק
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