May 07, 2021
3 mins read
Yoga is a lot more than a series of poses.
Asana practice - the practice of physical postures - is what most people think about when they think of yoga. It’s understandable if that’s all you ever see of the practice, but if you’re here reading this, I want to be the first to tell you that it is so much more than that. Yoga is a lifestyle and a practice, of which Asana is only one of eight limbs.
Though much of what I do in this space is demonstrating the connections between Asana practice and the Tarot, those are not the only connections we can make. In that spirit, I wanted to shed some light on perhaps a lesser discussed aspect of Yoga practice and how the Tarot can bring a deeper understanding of that practice (as well as vice versa).
The Niyamas are a limb of yoga concerned with one’s sense of discipline and ability to observe oneself. In short, it’s all about the relationship we have with ourselves and exploring our inner being. There are five Niyamas in total, but today I want to focus on one - Svadhyaya.
Svadhyaya is the practice of self-study - meaning a commitment to learning about and understanding yourself and your truth. This may sound really daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Just like an Asana practice, you can commit to a Svadhyaya practice - even if it’s just 10 minutes - and there are many, many ways to practice Svadhyaya.
The practice of Svadhyaya can be connected to the Hermit card in the tarot, the essence of which is all about isolation for the purpose of introspection, observation of the self, and a commitment to understanding one’s own truth within. When the Hermit shows up in your life, they are calling you to spend some time away from the “noise” of the voices outside of your own so that you can hear your inner voice and your inner truth. There are times in our lives when we need quiet contemplation to evaluate ourselves and really see if we are living in ways that serve us and honor who we really are. If you really want to learn the lesson of the Hermit, practicing Svadhyaya might be exactly what you need to deepen your understanding of and to act upon that message.
So, how does one practice Svadhyaya?
It really is as simple as taking the time to mindfully observe yourself. This can be as informal as taking five minutes to check in with your feelings and think about why you’re feeling those feelings. Maybe you want to meditate on it. Maybe you want to journal about it. Maybe you simply want to take a walk and be alone with your thoughts and see what comes up. There is no one right way to do this. The point is that you are being self-aware and putting in the effort to question whether or not your actions are aligned with your truth. This is how both Svadhyaya and the Hermit teach us to learn and grow into our highest selves.
Not sure where to start? Check out my Extras for a free journal exercise to help you on your introspective journey.