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Exploring Svadhyaya today is the process on self study. Observing yourself. It is OK to be critical of ourselves but bring balance and find areas that serve us too.  

You have a number of options as to how you invite Svadhyaya into your life today. Maybe check in on yourself throughout the day, notice how you feel, whether you’re working in harmony with yourself or against. Alternatively, Svadhyaya encourages the growth of knowledge. Is there an area that you want to gain more knowledge on, something that fascinates you? How can you pursue this? 

During Asana, your posture on the mat, practice Svadhyaya to find space, allowing yourself to feel and notice.    

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Tapas is our third Niyama. Loosely translated Tapas can be described as discipline or persistence.

Invite this into your day in a way that suites you but invite it with enthusiasm.  Perhaps working that little bit harder to see a job through. This could even relate to tidying a space in your house or cleaning a room.

By showing up to your yoga class each week or stepping on your mat each day you are practicing Tapas.     

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Today we look at Santosha or contentment. One of my favourites! Appreciate what you have right now. There is no need to give up on your dreams. You can continue to strive. Use Santosha as a reminder to to come back to contentment, not to always crave more, to live your life in the moment. Santosha allows you to find peace, happiness and enjoyment from the simple things as we no longer hang onto the past, nor do we allow our future to dictate today’s emotions.

You might wish to invite Santosha into your day by finding things to be grateful for today. Try to avoid possessions though.

Bring gratitude into your practice on the mat by finding appreciation, perhaps for your body and breath or the movement it gives you.

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Cleanliness & Purity

Our first Niyama is Saucha, cleanliness/purity. Here we look at our health, physically and mentally. This is not only about what we put on and in our body but also the thoughts we chose to dwell on. 

Choose wisely today.  If you wish to focus on the purity of the mind, perhaps work on removing negative tendencies such as jealousy or inflated pride. Alternatively, you could become more aware of what goes into your body and plan your food and drink to replenish and provide you with sense of control.

Taking Saucha onto the mat is to be aware of your thoughts. Start by checking in with your emotions before your practice. How can you support these emotions?  Be kind to yourself.   

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The Niyamas

Attitude toward ourself

We’re a week in! Thank you for sticking with me. I hope you enjoyed exploring the Yamas. Our journey is now moving from the external to the internal, our environment to ourselves. Over the following five days we’ll delve into the Niyamas.  These again are a set of values but instead of exploring our relationship with the world, these can guide your personal interactions, your behaviour towards yourself.  

Like we did when we started the Yamas, you might want to take today to study yourself, your attitude towards yourself.  Then tomorrow we’ll start with the first Niyama.   

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Our last Yama is Aparigraha or non-grasping.  This can relate to both objects or maybe even relationships.  Anything that you can become possessive about.  

Feel free to analyse your relationships today. However, I’m going to make this a little more tangible by suggesting that you to evaluate an area in your home that is cluttered. That kitchen drawer, the cupboard under the stairs, or a box in the garage that hasn’t been opened since you moved in (I think I have one of those).  Have you been hoarding?  What can you let go of that might create some freedom and energy for you?  

During your practice on the mat you might wish to let go of any thoughts you have around how you should look on the mat and allow your mind to focus more on how it feels on the mat.       

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Brahmacharya originally translates to celibacy. We’re going to translate this a little further, thinking of it as moderation and how you direct your energy instead of total abstinence and we’ll relate it to any sensual activity.

Think of activities that stimulate the senses, for example eating or drinking. Brahmacharaya allows you to enjoy more of life by living it moderately. How can you bring in more balance to your day? How are you going to choose to use and conserve your energy?

Now let’s look at how we can practice Brahmacharya on the mat and the difference between excess and moderation. We’re looking for a sweet spot here where maximum benefit is obtained. This isn’t likely to be found by pushing yourself to excess but by practicing moderation. When moving into a posture it could be more beneficial not to go all out but to hold back a little allowing you to maintain that posture for longer, giving time for the mind and body to connect and explore.

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Asteya is our third yama and means non-stealing. This doesn’t apply only to possessions but also thoughts, ideas and time.

To practice Asteya today, firstly question your needs, then how you fulfil them. Practicing Asteya could be thinking of environmental issues and being aware of what you don’t need, only taking what is essential and what is available from the planet. Alternatively we could twist this around and ensure that no-one steals from you by setting boundaries that limit what you give.

To apply Asteya to you practice on the mat think of respect. Understand your motivations and cravings. If the person next to you is standing on their head, do you really need to do this too?

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The second of our Yamas is Satya or truth, to refrain from lying, eliminating exploitation and manipulation. 

Today, see if you can recognise instances of untruthfulness, not from others but yourself. This isn’t always in the form of speech but can also be how you adopt or portray yourself. Also, listen how you speak to yourself.  Find authenticity and be true to yourself.  

On the mat this can mean listening to your body as we did for Ahimsa yesterday.  Interpreting messages as they are meant, not manipulating them. For example, you feel discomfort in a part of your body.  Do you go ahead with a movement because that’s what you were able to achieve last time or do you adapt because today is a different day with different feelings and abilities?  

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The first and possibly the most important of our Yamas is Ahimsa, which translates into non-violence in our mind, speech and actions. 

Today I ask you to find empathy and compassion in those situations that might benefit from them, maybe even going as far as finding forgiveness, love and at the very least kindness. If at any point during today you find tension building up from something you thought, heard or saw, recognise it and maybe search for compassion.

If you wish to adopt Ahimsa into your Asana (your practice on the mat), listen to your body, listen to where it wants to go, if any parts are asking for attention and only go as far as it feels right. In addition to this, recognise negative thoughts in your practice, work on understanding them so you can maybe let them go.