Svadhyaya or How to read Yoga texts

Self reflection and contemplation are important while studying a Yoga text.

No, this isn't a crash course in Sanskrit. Nor are we going to start with the ABC. This is not about speed reading nor are there prizes for the one who reads more or longer. 

This is about something far more basic and simple. Yet we have forgotten it. The wisdom in Yoga texts and scriptures cannot be studied intellectually. Reading ancient Yoga texts and scriptures is quite different from reading novels, studying for school or clicking from site to site in the Internet.

The Meaning of Svadhyaya

The first reading of any of these ancient Yoga texts may leave you bewildered and confused. Sometimes it is just the translation. But mostly it is what the Yoga text does to you. It throws you out of your comfort zone.

Svadhyaya or the study of Yoga and the Self  requires a sadhaka to read and re-read a text. It means reading a Yoga text in the context of your own life and moreover it means the integrating these insights in to your daily life. This self reflection is called Svadhyaya. 

When the student is ready, the teachings will appear

Reading Yoga scriptures or texts that someone recommends is great, but scriptures or texts that come to you go deeper. Those on the path will find this happening often. When you have doubts or you need certain information for deeper understanding this will come to you in a most wonderful and effortless manner. We could para-phrase the old saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear"  to "When the student is ready, the teachings will appear."

Teachings  manifest in different forms, sometimes as a book or if the intensity of the desire is very strong, even as a teacher. It is up to the student to imbibe the teachngs in whatever form they appear. It is important to integrate this knowledge in to one's daily life and actions until the wisdom of yoga scriptures subtlely transforms the personality. Reading a page or two just before bedtime is a wonderful practice. The ageless knowledge of the yogis goes deep in to the subconscious mind and leaves wonderful positive impressions. Reading a page or two before we start the day, puts us in a good frame of mind and sets the mood of the day. Try it!

Discover the difference between Kwowledge and Wisdom

Reading and re-reading the book means that you will eventually memorize the text. If there is effort involved in memorizing you will defeat the purpose of the exercise. Effortlessly memorizing means that you focus on contemplation of the deeper meaning and if you should eventually know it by heart then well and good. Learning by rout should not be the purpose of reading and re-reading the text.

When you let the Yoga text speak to you and allow the wisdom to drop in to your innermost depths you will find out the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

Book Recommendation

Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (8 volume set)


Thiruna from Pollachi:
Normally yoga scriptures especially yoga upanishads and hatha yoga texts are recondite in nature. Rather than reading just the translations, it is better to read commentaries.

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