I found inspiring thoughts for the fourth Niyama, Svadhyaya in a Yoga Journal article by Gary Krafstow- link provided for those interested. http://www.yogajournal.com/article/philosophy/polishing-the-mirror/.
Before class started, a student spoke of the idea of the masks we wear, the issues we can encounter when we face up to this and perhaps the support we need in this process. This was before she even knew of the theme for class, which tied in very nicely indeed! Funny how that sometimes happens.
With the aspect of Svadhyaya as Self-study, we can use this to reveal those distorted images of who we are- masks, if you like- that we and others have created over time, to try to uncover the essence of who we really are and more importantly what we have the potential to become.
The article has interesting things to say about how the behaviour of friends and family can provide a mirror for us- if we are brave enough to look.
Taking Svadhyaya onto our mats for class emphasised trying to find fresh perspective with each and every asana and each breath within it- discovering something new- with the body, breath, mind, attitude. So trying to break the auto pilot mode we can get ourselves into. There were lots of heart opening, back bending asanas where students might be challenged by strength and stamina, by their perception of what they think they should be able to do vs. the reality of what they can do at this moment. The choices are there for them to take responsibility for their practice. I guess in the days that follow, their bodies will let them know if they got it right!
Ruth teaches yoga in Cheltenham UK, weaving yoga philosophy into the asana practice to help students connect yoga on the mat to their lives off the mat.