The Practice of Svadhyaya (Self Study)

Svadhyaya asks you to suspend looking outside for perceptions of yourself, and instead, look at your inner life–your beliefs, your priorities, and your actions. -Suzan Colon

The term svadhyaya literally means ‘one’s own reading’ or ‘self study’. It is is the fourth niyama of patnajali’s sutras and has the potential to deepen our yoga way beyond the mat.  My favorite translation or definition of this beautiful inner work called Svadhyaya refers to any activity wherein we quietly study ourselves and reflect upon our actions, thoughts, emotions, motivations, aspirations, desires and needs in pursuit of a deeper experience of our lives and our own selves.

The physical aspects to the yoga practice offers the perfect opportunity to explore svadhyaya.

To create each posture you must move and place the various parts of your body into a shape on a rectangle. You could do this without any real engagement or awareness, carelessly going through the motions while your mind is a million miles away, or you could work towards staying present with each and every moment as it arises. You could notice how the body responds to being aligned a certain way, observe physical sensations, watch how your mind reacts to what you’re doing with your body, experience any emotions that show up, and listen to the ebb and flow of your breath. 

Often when we’re practicing yoga on the mat discomfort—or sometimes pain—becomes evident.

If we slow down, apply this form of self awareness, or svadhyaya, and truly contemplate what’s happening in our bodies and minds, pain becomes an important teacher. We can examine the subtleties of pain and begin to understand the difference between “bad pain” that is harmful and injurious to our bodies; and “good pain,” mild or moderate discomfort that we can stay with, breathe into and observe as it shifts and changes.

Since my first hip surgery in 2016, I have greatly avoided the physical practice and therefore, avoided this kind of deeper self-inquiry. Sure, I did some chair yoga as I taught my classes and I would occasionally unroll my mat but honestly it was more as a way to simply say that I am practicing. Truth is I wasn’t practicing at all. Or at least very often.

I might find myself being a tad more consistent and then another injury and another surgery would put me back in the same resistance and emptiness of anything closely resembling a physical yoga practice.

With great honesty I can say that as time has gone on I have made up a million excuses as to why I was not practicing a physical yoga. Some of the excuses were legitimate and some of them were downright falsehoods.

I missed my time on the mat a lot, but I still resisting it until recently when I began to choose time on the yoga mat. Rather than spend too much time in the morning reading and journaling (and avoiding the mat), I have since shortened that sitting time to spend more of my so-called ‘spirit time’ with myself on the mat. This inner work has been transformative to me in just a few weeks.

I began to feel like I had come home after years of being away. I felt like the dear old friend has returned and without any judgment she has welcomed me into the sanctuary of pure love and acceptance.

This morning as I was paying attention to the sensations within my body (while also fighting the grumblings of any ego based thoughts entering my mind about what my body used to be able to do or feel…more self-study), I realized this magnificent practice of self study is a gift that opens the doors to so many other deep discoveries. I found the voice speaking softly to me while practicing the way any dear old friend would speak; encouraging, kind, compassionate, loving. This beautiful friend reminded my body of all that it has endured and welcomed her back to feel and soak in the sensations as perfect and whole.

Foot Pain

If you’ve been around me since September you might have noticed a hobbling limp. Most likely this new foot pain is a result of a changed and unproductive gait following three hip surgeries.

I’ve tried it all and can’t say that this has healed me, though I do think it aids in me being insane with pain.

Be gentle on those with foot pain. It’s not an easy thing.

Oh and the MRI shows a couple nasty tears and a bone and cartilage deformity. Since PT didn’t help, I’m moving to more aggressive treatment with hopes to keep me walking and surgery free.

If you’d like to order or want to learn the bad is of essential oils, check out this gorgeous ebook!

Pain Relief Essential Oil Blend

This is the go-to blend for PAIN. If you experience muscle pain, nerve pain, arthritis pain or joint pain this is for you. Check out how amazing these oils are. I have samples of Deep Blue Rub if you want to try them! Just shoot me a message and I can get them to you!

Remember, you can use some or all of these oils in a roller! The top three listed below are pretty affordable and have a variety of uses. Making up rollers is the easiest and most cost effective way to use and apply the oils.

Pain Relief Blend

  • Lemongrass has anti-inflammatory, analgesic (relieves pain, regenerative (promotes regenerations of cell tissue) and anti-rheumatic properties. It is amazing for connective tissue and joint/ligament/tendon pain.
  • Marjoram has antispasmodic (relieves spasms of involuntary muscles) and vasodilator (relaxes/dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow) properties. Marjoram is great for carpel tunnel, tendonitis, arthritis, muscles cramps or sprains.
  • Siberian Fir has analgesic properties and is amazing for muscle and joint pain, muscle fatigue and regeneration, rheumatism (inflammation to the joints, muscles, tissues)—especially rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Helichrysum has antispasmodic, analgesic and neuroprotective properties. It relies nerve pain.
  • Deep Blue is awesome for muscle/joint pain, arthritis, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, whip lash, muscle tension, and so much more.

To learn more about the basics of essential oils, check out this handy guide!

Benefits of Massage

Are you a believer in massage?

I used to think that massages were an added luxury that only divas indulged in.  That was until I developed chronic pain and had a series of orthopedic surgeries.  Now, I know that I could not live without them.  I also used to think that I did not have the money for massages.  Now, I choose to invest in my health instead of in other things.

While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found massage may also be helpful for:

  • Anxiety
  • Digestive disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia related to stress
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Soft tissue strains or injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Temporomandibular joint pain

Beyond the benefits for specific conditions or diseases, some people enjoy massage because it often produces feelings of caring, comfort and connection. Did you know there are so many other benefits of massage?

These are the 10 most common benefits reported from massage therapy:

1. Reduce Stress

A relaxing day at the spa is a great way to unwind and de-stress. However, clients are sure to notice themselves feeling relaxed and at ease for days and even weeks after their appointments!

2. Improve Circulation

Loosening muscles and tendons allows increased blood flow throughout the body. Improving your circulation can have a number of positive effects on the rest of your body, including reduced fatigue and pain management!

3. Reduce Pain

Massage therapy is great for working out problem areas like lower back pain and chronic stiffness. A professional therapist will be able to accurately target the source of your pain and help achieve the perfect massage regimen.

4. Eliminate Toxins

Stimulating the soft tissues of your body will help to release toxins through your blood and lymphatic systems.

5. Improve Flexibility

Massage therapy will loosen and relax your muscles, helping your body to achieve its full range of movement potential.

6. Improve Sleep

A massage will encourage relaxation and boost your mood.  Going to bed with relaxed and loosened muscles promotes more restful sleep, and you’ll feel less tired in the morning!

7. Enhance Immunity

Stimulation of the lymph nodes re-charges the body’s natural defense system.

8. Reduce Fatigue

Massage therapy is known to boost mood and promote better quality sleep, thus making you feel more rested and less worn-out at the end of the day

9. Alleviate Depression and Anxiety

Massage therapy can help to release endorphins in your body, helping you to feel happy, energized, and at ease.

10. Reduce post-surgery and post-injury swelling

A professional massage is a great way to safely deal with a sports injury or post-surgery rehabilitation.

It is also important to me that my massage therapist uses pure essential oils on my body during massage. The aromatic as well as the physical benefits create an all around amazing experience for the mind, body and soul.

Some of my favorite essential oils are:

  • Lavender. Safe for all ages, massage into the skin to promote calmness.
  • Ylang Ylang. Reduces effects of daily stress and leaves a soothing floral aroma.
  • Cypress. Soothing when applied on its own, use with a citrus oil for an invigorating massage.
  • Eucalyptus. Helps to create feelings of open airways.
  • Lemongrass. The perfect massage oil to use after an especially intense workout.
  • Marjoram. Used to target specific tired or stressed muscles.
  • Deep Blue® Soothing Blend. A blend that is both cooling and comforting, it also comes as Deep Blue® Rub for a lotion-like application.

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