Here it is: 2014 reading list
The niyama svadhyaya implores yoga practitioners to seek wisdom through self-study. This has two implications:
- First, svadhyaya asks you to seek wisdom in written texts. They should be texts that are personally meaningful to you; anything that is inspiring is appropriate. The list could include: the Yoga Sutras, texts of world religions such as the Christian Bible or the Hindu Upanishads, ancient poetry of the mystics or contemporary prose of modern poets, self-help books written by respected cultural critics, yoga practice manuals, vegetarian cook-books, or even your own journal. Any text that inspires introspection will increase your momentum on your spiritual path.
- Second, svadhyaya asks you to use your asana (physical) practice as a setting for self-study. This means that every pose on your mat is an opportunity to find and meet your physical edge, without moving beyond it. For example, the ability to focus your eyes on your thumbs in utkatasana (chair pose) is a study of your personal will to ‘stick with it even when the going gets tough.’ The avoidance of urdhva dhanurasana (backbending) may disclose deep seated fears which you thought you had previously conquered. Basically, every time your feet find the mat, you are engaging in self-study.
I challenge you to engage in svadhyaya in 2014 and to dedicate yourself anew to embracing your own spiritual growth.
Many of my students have asked for book recommendations. So, here’s my 2014 svadhyaya list for you (alphabetical by author), including one favorite quote from each book:
1. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga by Deepak Chopra
“Yoga encourages you to be as familiar with your inner world of thoughts, feelings, memories, desires, and imagination as you are with the outer world of time, space, and causality. When you can move through both the inner and the outer domains of life with freedom and finesse, you fulfill the highest purpose of yoga.” (p. 97)
2. Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates
“We show up, we burn brightly in the moment, live passionately, and when the moment is over, when our work is done, we step back and let go.” (p. 416)
3. Heart Yoga: The Sacred Marriage of Yoga and Mysticism by Andrew Harvey and Karuna Erickson
“The foundation of yoga rests in non-violence (ahimsa) and truth (satya). Honor yourself by being fully present with compassion and joy, and this will prepare you to enter the deep meditative and transformative states that the practices are designed to engender. Compassion is the beginning, the means, and the end of heart Yoga…” (p. 18)
4. The Bhagavad Gita: A Walkthrough for Westerners by Jack Hawley
“When [the mind] can rest steady and undistracted in contemplation of the True Self Within, you will be enlightened and completely united in love with the Divine. This is where yoga reaches its culmination: the merging of individual consciousness in Cosmic Consciousness. This is nothing less than the goal of life!” (p. 23)
5. A Life Worth Breathing by Max Strom
“Your spirituality, however you define it, can be infused into your body so that you radiate who you are from your soul—and what you stand for in this world… I am referring to your life purpose, the vision of your soul’s desire. Once you do this, your mind will begin to see the world in a way that supports that vision.” (p. 28).
Have another recommendation? I’d love to hear from you! (My bookcases are pretty full, but I’ve got Christmas gift cards ready to be put to good use.) Your thoughts are always welcome.