Svadhyaya: Yoga for Personal Growth and Understanding of the Self

YogaWith all the proven physical benefits seen in practitioners across the globe, yoga has proven to be more than just a fitness fad. It had become a wellness movement, a mainstay in the fitness industry. Its promise of better flexibility, muscle strength, blood circulation, and over-all health has inspired many enthusiasts to pick up the relaxing physical activity.

Moreover, yoga improves not just physical health, but also has mental benefits. Yogis can look forward to greater personal growth and better understanding of the self.

A Closer Look at the Self

Svadhyaya is a yoga concept that means “self-study.” The word “sva” means self, and the second part “dhyaya” comes from the verb root dhyai, which means “to contemplate or recollect.”

Experts from explain that as you engage in yoga, you will be able to look into two aspects of the self. The first level of Svadhayaya contemplates on the small “s” self, which refers to the physical body, personality and mind. You evaluate your thoughts, words, and behavior.

It also entails evaluating how you treat others and yourself. You observe responses of the body and mind in the context of relationships. As you do this, you understand yourself better and holistically, which contributes to personal growth.

The second aspect of Svadhayaya is the study of the “Self” or the Divine essence. This is where you go beyond thoughts, emotions, personality and body. It involves practicing meditation or breath work, and other forms of yoga to get to know your true nature.

A Practice on and off the Mat

An important thing you should pay attention to when studying the self while on the yoga mat is breathing. Short, shallow breaths often signal you are under stress or anxiety. It may also indicate that you’re pushing yourself to the limits during yoga practice. These signs should compel you to examine yourself. Why are you stressed? Where’s the pressure coming from?

Take the principle of Svadhyaya with you, even off the mat. Incorporate it into your daily life. Be extra sensitive to what you’re doing so you can be fully aware of yourself and fully present at the moment. Contemplate on your actions, so you can see opportunities for change.

Yoga is more than a physical activity; it is more of an exercise of the mind. And this very nature sets the ground for self-examination, which translates to personal growth.