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Svadhyaya; will I ever be able to say this lovely niyama properly?

anatomy & physiology atman brahman nervous system niyama patanjali piano exam yoga Mar 15, 2016

Any pronunciation tips are greatly received; I’d rather not risk devaluing the lovely niyama with my interpretation of the Sanskrit word, which sounds as though I’m naming a cartoon character!


The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali explains svadhyaya is the study of scripture or spiritual books



My own personal understanding of this is that it is also the study of the self, for if the universe or Brahman exists in unity with our individual consciousness, Atman, understanding and learning more about ourselves is a way in which we can discover more about life. It seems I’m making my own brain ache.


I love to learn. I learn for fun. I’m not suggesting I’m some kind of a brain-box, far from it, but I believe if something piques your interest then you owe it to yourself to find out a bit more. A couple of years ago, I studied Anatomy & Physiology and I’ve learned so much; it’s changed how I see everything, from diet and nutrition to exercise, the physical and emotional effects of stress, it really has impacted the way I live and the way I want to parent my children. It’s become a bit of a standing joke in my house that I’ll often use biology to back me up when I’m asking my sons to drink their water or for them not to have too many sugary snacks.


More recently, I’ve revisited my childhood ambition of playing the piano. Using borrowed books from the library and my little Casio keyboard, I taught myself to read music (a bit) with cartoon crochets and semi-quaver figures and was able to play with my right hand and with my left. Just not both together and at this point I had to stop my learning. In recent years, I decided I’d like to pick it up again and have been having piano lessons with a beautiful, talented musician friend of mine whose patience is so calming. On the day of my first ever piano grading exam, I learned a lot about myself. Firstly, nerves can sometimes be a good thing. It seems I may have been the only person in history to actually be more excited about the process; I’d practised with dedication, rarely missing a day, and even the practice ahead of my turn was good. The parents in the waiting room (yes, everyone else taking a music exam was in the region of 4 feet tall) said my playing sounded good, but on placing my fingers on the beautiful piano in the exam room, my fingers forgot what to do and seemed to tangle themselves into knots. Instead of having a gradual build-up of nerves, they all came out at once to gang up on me. The second thing I learned was that I have a tendency to be mean to myself when I think I can do better. I’m afraid I kind of beat myself up later that day. I tried to be honest with myself that the notes that I did I play correctly, I played them well. The surprising thing that I learned was to trust myself and to be kinder and more honest with myself. Even more surprisingly, I passed my Grade 1 exam. I know on the day it wasn’t my best recital but I had entered into the experience for fun, after all, and I shall continue with my lessons because I’m also a bit stubborn.


Is there anything that you would like to learn? Rocket science? How to swim? Where does that footpath lead to? Now’s a good time to start.