The Niyamas | Svadhyaya

The fourth of the Niyamas is svadhyaya—the study of self.   In Sanskrit, sva means self and adhyaya means investigation, inquiry, or education.

Self-inquiry challenges the way we perceive our identity, and that examination can shift who we become.

Take our jobs for example:

Every day we play a role in the workplace. In fact, we might even have a label given to us by our job like teacher, attorney, doctor, tailor, pilot, professional athlete, etc.

But that job isn't who we are. It is the way we make money to support ourselves. It might even be the way we make a positive impact on the world. Hopefully we enjoy our jobs, but they aren't who we are and it helps to remind ourselves of that sometimes—especially if there is a gap between what we do for a living and our higher dreams.

Sometimes there are gaps in the way we describe ourselves and the way we behave. For example, you may have heard someone reference an identity based on their previous practices as if they were still true even when evidence reveals it is no longer true. For example, a former college athlete might talk about herself as if she is still an athlete, when you happen to know that she is actually a current couch potato. Or someone may call themselves a "family man" in their bio when you happen to know they've spent no time with their kids since the divorce. If someone shares a lot of "glory day" stories it is often them trying to convince themselves that they are still who they used to be; and while this is easy to see in someone else, it is not always easy to see in ourselves.

Svadhyaya invites us to see ourselves past the labels of identity. 

It helps us shed false labels and step into what is most true about ourselves.

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© Yogi with a Day JobMaira Gall