Svadhyaya and Hate Talk: Tuning Up Your Inner Voice on the Mat
Svadhyaya is our theme for the month of May. TKV Desikachar, the son and student of Krishnamacharya (the father of modern yoga), defines svadhyaya as “Self-inquiry; any study that helps you understand yourself; the study of sacred texts.” Most of us focus on the first two definitions and only dabble in the sacred texts.
But regardless of your depth of interest in the study of Sanskrit or Zen Buddhism or Motor Cycle Maintenance, the study of the self can be infinitely rewarding. Your inner voice can lead you on a path to unveiling your own divine nature or it can railroad you into depression and despair.
“Choose your path wisely, Grasshopper.” Here are two recent contrasting yoga articles that illustrate this choice:
This article in Real Age explains how hate speech (in this case ‘Fat Talk’) can undermine your ability to meet your goals. It tells us that “My butt is big,” “I’m so fat,” and “No you’re not fat, I’m fat,” will work against you. The article admonishes: “Pay attention to the tone you use when talking to or about yourself.”
This article from Oprah (which I usually love) talks about the power of Bikram yoga to transform your life in 60-days. Any kind of consistent yoga practice can be transformative; the heat and sweat and discipline of Bikram are known for it. But the author’s hate talk about her body might put the kibosh on her transformation potential. Check it out:
My flabby abdomen won’t let my forehead anywhere near my knees, and my legs tremble as I try contorting myself into a position my body neither recognizes nor endorses. The goal is to concentrate on stretching and breathing, but I’m fixating on my unpedicured toenails. And the neon paleness of my legs. And the fact that I probably should have shaved.
This article ends with the author’s admission that “I’m stuck in self-flagellating old thought patterns”. But the language above made me pause to reflect. I have heard the trash talk of my own inner voice. Maybe it’s time to change the station to something more like “I’m so awesome for trying ekapada kundinyasana II again” or “I’m nurturing myself in child’s pose right now.”
As part of your own Svadhyaya practice, try listening closely to the inner voice that arises for you during yoga practice, during meditation, or during your bath. You’ might just be surprised and edified by what you hear.
image credits: smalltalkaboutbiglove.org, gaiam.com