Svadhyaya | Self Study


“you always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself”

Glinda the Good


I have a confession.

I’m a 35 year old woman and I still have a Blankie.

Society has tried to shame me into getting rid of it. People have said, “you need to grow up, Sarah, and give it to another child who might need the comfort”. Or even more inappropriately the unsolicited advice comes in the form of “get it out of your bed so there’s room for someone else to get in your bed!"

But the truth is, I will never willingly give Blankie away.

We’ve been through a lot together.

Blankie, which has always been gender neutral, was made by my Aunt Sharon while she was in the hospital with breast cancer. I still remember the day I came down from the children’s ward to her bedside where she handed me Blankie to me wrapped in a white ribbon. Thought that’s the only memory I have of her, Aunt Sharon and I have had a special kinship because we were both fighting a battle with a silent enemy of cancer.

I brought Blankie to every hospital visit, every surgery, every examination. Blankie has been with me through college, as I sailed around the world and even in my brokenhearted darkness of aloneness. I have brought Blankie to ceremonies, to family reunions, to climb trees. In the terrifying and joyful moments, Blankie has been there.

Though I’d like to think that Blankie has superpowers, I know that is not the case. But Blankie does do something magical, it gives me a window into my own power.

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Svadhyaya is our theme this month with the focus of self-study and self-motivated study.

For many who turn to yoga for self betterment, meaning those who want to do something good for ourselves, it is tempting to look to these practices as ways to beat our bodies and minds into submission.

At this moment, it’s important to note that the historical texts of Hatha Yoga provide physical purification practices (neti - nasal cleansing; nauli - stomach churning; dhauti - internal cleansing) because the body was a hindrance to achieving Samadhi (bliss). In fact, many of the ways the ancient teachings have been translated from teacher to student though the generations carry this emphasis, that for some reason we are impure, contaminated and wrong as we are.

If you were raised, like I was, in the predominantly Judeo Christian/Capitalist/White Supremacist society of the West, it is hard not to interpret Yogic practices as a way to beat ourselves up so that we can achieve more.