Reflection and Self-Study
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin
Self-study is an important aspect of yoga. Looking at yourself and trying to figure out who you are and what you believe in is essential to beginning on a path of yoga. The self is always being worked at, and worked upon in the quest to fulfill the ideals of yoga and to be your own truth. There is no room for the ego, attachment to material things, and a lax attitude toward harming others (whether it be from gossiping, negative thoughts, hurtful words). The more you begin to look at yourself and see what is standing in the way of your contentment, you can begin to breakdown the current construct of your personality, defenses, and habits to become LOVE ITSELF. Infusing life with positivity, honesty, helping towards others, gratitude and compassion return us to our natural state of bliss. We begin to see the world for the love that it is because we are embodying that love and coloring our perception. It is a lifelong journey inside ourselves to discover our inner peace and therefore the peace of the universe.
Reading “yoga” books can help to light the fire for internal reflection through the powerful words and inspiring stories. These are my favorites:
- The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Translation and Commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda. This is the most amazing and inspiring book. It is about realizing what is real and leading yourself away from attachment, towards bliss. It is about controlling your mind to empower yourself. And it’s a really easy read. Its 200 sutras (threads in sanskrit, essentially, compact ideas that explain the entire practice of yoga) expounded with short explanations by Sri Swami Satchitanada. From the introduction, “[Yoga's] goal is nothing less than the total transformation of a seemingly limited physical, mental and emotional person into a fully illumined, thoroughly harmonized and perfected being- from an in individual with likes and dislikes, pains, and pleasures, successes and failures, to a sage of permanent peace, joy and selfless dedication to the entire creation.” The writing is extremely clear and easy to understand. Start reading today!!!!!
- Jivamukti Yoga by Sharon Gannon and David Life. This is a wonderful book that covers so much information. It gives you sequences and sun salutations you can begin to teach yourself, instructions for meditation and pranayama (breath control) and wealth of information on yoga and spirituality. It is filled with beautiful pictures and tons of quotes and can almost be used as a guidebook for entering into the practice of yoga.
- Autobiography of a Yogi by Parmahansa Yogananda. This book is a magical story chronicling the life of Sri Yogananda. We follow him from childhood, searching for a guru through his adult life and finally his founding of the Self-Realization Fellowship. Along his journey, we travel back and forth between the East and West, witness miracles and divine messages from God and meet saints all over the world. The writing in this book is incredible! On materialism, “As for me, I lie upon forest leaves, and, having nothing to guard, close my eyes in tranquil slumber; whereas, had I anything of worldly value, that burden would banish sleep. The earth supplies me with everything I need, even as a mother provides her child with milk. I go wherever I please, unencumbered by material cares.” Upon meeting his guru, “Foam of words and spray of thoughts gushed from the fountain of his omniscience.” On looking at one’s self, “Who am I?”- the Great Inquiry indeed. By stern rejection of all other thoughts the devotee soon finds himself going deeper and deeper into the true Self, and the sidetracking bewilderments of other thoughts cease to arise.” Enough said, rt?