Updated: Nov 5, 2021
Today I had the opportunity to practice svadhyaya (self study), the fourth niyama. For those new to yoga, the niyamas are the second of the 'Eight Limbs of Yoga' from the ancient Indian sage Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Niyamas are personal practices that encourage individuals to draw their focus inwards and are equally as important as pranayama (breathing) and asana (postures) in the yogic life.
My intention for sharing is to show how you can incorporate yoga into daily life, no flexibility required. And to also demonstrate that by observing our thoughts, behaviour, and beliefs we can learn so much about ourselves and open up so many opportunities for personal growth.
Cue seemingly irrelevant story:
I have had my beautiful mint green city bike for around 2 years, it’s been parked at my front door for 2-3 months and had freshly pumped tyres for about a week. But today was the day I vowed to cycle to town for the first time, go to the gym, work out, have a swim, go the to the supermarket for dinner supplies and then cycle home. I had successfully removed every physical barrier and I was ready to go.
I woke up, showered and then lay on my bed in my dressing gown talking myself out of going. I tried to rally up some company for the ride to no avail. Rationally I knew only good things would come from the cycle. A nice bit of cardio, tone my legs, a dose of vitamin d and that lovely clarity and energy you get from breathing in fresh air, and yet I still didn’t feel motivated to move.
I recognised the feeling, a heaviness, lack of motivation and the welcome caress of the comfort zone. The same feeling I get when I plan to study my Spanish text books, master a new sewing pattern or get the practise in before my next swimming lesson. When I have set myself up to do something that can only add value to my life, when I have the idea AND the gear but something stops me from taking that step. All too often I’ll take the easy option and indulge in some lazing around in the name of “self-care” instead.
But today I turned to my trusted trio; ceremonial cacao, meditation, and journaling to try and get to the bottom of it. I explored my thought patterns, values and how to overcome. I resolved to be kinder and more patient with myself, to take one little step rather than trying to conquer the world in one swift attempt. I told myself if I get the bike through the door and just start the journey to town that will be good enough.
Sometimes I make plans so big just the thought of them exhausts me. Ambition is great and has its place but sometimes small steps in the right direction should also be celebrated.
I made it into town and back, but the gym, swim and shop went out the window. But after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.