Many of us come to yoga through the physical doors—we want our bodies to be stronger and more flexible. After you develop a regular yoga practice, you may find that the physical practice is just the tip of the iceberg. Through the mind body connection, not only do our bodies change, but our minds become stronger and more flexible. Svadhyaya, or self reflection, is one of the guiding principles outlined in the yoga sutras. Self study is a yogic practice that transforms your physical practice from “working out” to “working in.” Through this practice, our actions become much more than a way to achieve something physical, like getting into the fullest expression of a pose. They become a mirror that we can use to learn to see ourselves more deeply. If we can be open-minded enough to examine our behaviors and coping strategies that we use to maintain our idea of self then we can break through the blockages that this self-image creates into the true nature of our essential self.
Svadhyaya is a way for you to gaze inward and learn about your true self. Accessing a self-study practice may look differently for each person—it could be developing a meditation practice, exploring inspirational, sacred texts or making discoveries through psychotherapy. The key is not to judge what you study and be truthful about what comes up. First we must try to understand ourselves, and through that understanding, change our attitudes and behaviors. You may find you have to let go of habits or blocks to allow yourself space and opportunity to gaze inward. Being more balanced in your life helps you to practice non-attachment of what truths surface so you can observe, understand, and release. Practice the previous niyamas during your self reflection. Be content (santosha) with whatever growth happens, even if the progress is slow and there are setbacks. Find discipline (tapas) and patience towards your growth so your study is productive. Stay present, non-judgmental and content with discoveries during svadhyaya. If you stay authentic and compassionate towards yourself and others you can keep moving forward and evolving.
Svadhyaya is an ongoing process that changes as we move through different stages of life. Sometimes we can get caught up in the day-to-day routine and find ourselves on autopilot. Acting habitually and being swept up into life’s momentum causes us to forget to check in with where we’re at or where we’re going. To stay present and aware through our self study, we can discover our higher potential. In classic yogic philosophy, svadhyaya techniques were mantras, sacred texts, and masters, all of which are still wonderful opportunities. For the modern day yogi, we can use our spouses, partners, friends, yoga teachers and fellow yoga students as a means to svadhyaya. Our relationships act as mirror for studying how people are responding to us. So whether you have solitary, social, or variable practices of svadhyaya, this deeper understanding can lead to discovering and refining our true and essential self.
Still undecided about Yoga by Degrees 200 Hour Teacher Training Program wondering if it will be right for you? Listen to what a few of our recent graduates have to say word for word:
“The 200 hour Teacher Certification Program at Yoga by Degrees is phenomenal. I cannot recommend it highly enough…Led by YBD Managers, Meghan Rhode & Samantha Raphael, the training went above & beyond my expectations. Meghan & Sam (along with Loreta & other talented mentors from previous training), skillfully and intuitively led us through a journey that not only taught us the skills & philosophy of yoga, but they also provided a safe, nurturing environment for learning. The wisdom and experience they both bring to the training is a gold mine, and their presentation/teaching style is so engaging, interesting and intelligent. In addition, it was just a fun place to be and learn… They take their yoga very seriously and are extremely professional & knowledgable, but also made me feel so at ease with their grounded personalities and wonderful sense of humor : )
In addition to the amazing training I received, another unexpected bonus was the amazing friendships I developed with the other trainees. The high caliber of people YBD attracts to this program adds a whole other layer of “wonderful” to the experience. You log a LOT of hours with your fellow trainees, in such an intimate setting… And I can honestly say it was a joy and blessing to spend so much time with such an inspiring group, & I truly feel I’ve made some lifelong friendships, rooted in integrity and a love for yoga.
It was a pleasure and gift to go through this teacher training at YBD. Not only do I feel confident that I gained all the skills needed to teach yoga, but Meghan, Sam & Loreta provided a unique, safe, creative, nurturing environment which gently & consistently encouraged me to grow & blossom, Their passion for yoga, coupled with their wisdom and natural gifts for teaching, make this program a life changing experience! It is with 100% confidence and enthusiasm that I highly recommend YBD Teacher Training!” - Lisa Whittingham Brennan, Yoga by Degrees Teacher Training Graduate / Winter 2014
“Yoga By Degrees’ 200 hour teacher training program was so much fun! I was surprised too see how much there truly is to learn about yoga- postures, philosophy, history, anatomy, Sanskrit, class structure, and more. The biggest take away for me however, was what I learned about myself and my journey along the way. I would recommend this program to anyone who is passionate about teaching, and also for someone looking to enhance their practice tenfold. Best of luck, yogi!”- Kristin Ehlers Yoga by Degrees Teacher Training Graduate/Winter 2014
“In our training both of you mentioned that it would be a good idea to start teaching at local community centers. I applied, auditioned and was fortunate enough to get on the schedule for LaGrange Park (for the summer)! Thanks again to both of you. This has been one of the best experiences I have ever had. “
- Ali Zygmunt , Yoga by Degrees Teacher Training Graduate / Winter 2014
Spring / Summer 2014 Starts March 4th! Click here for more info. or call any of our YBD locations or stop by for today!
February can be a good time to check in with your self-discipline. New Year resolutions are hard to stick with when life continues with its ebbs and flows. The snow seems to be endless and maybe you’ve taken some steps back in your progress towards a goal. If you can learn to appreciate even those extra challenges, you can come back to your intention for the day or month or year. Tapas, or self-discipline, is the third niyama, or moral observance, outlined in yogic philosophy. Tapas is the fire that burns within us that is needed as fuel to achieve difficult goals. To cultivate tapas, you must foster self-control, mindfulness, focus, and integrity to stay balanced and calm in every situation. If we can learn to cultivate more self-discipline, we can find balance and be on our path towards peace.
Even if it is dark and cold outside, there is always some silver lining. Without the trials and practice towards a goal, the achievement wouldn’t be as sweet. It is an easy example to work on self-discipline when practicing yoga. Some days on your mat can be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually fulfilling and you can find peace and calm with relative ease. Other days you have to dig deep for the motivation to continue. Those are the days where the most growth, patience, and perseverance can be found. Where in your life can you find more austerity? In a society where we multitask and fill our schedules to the limit, can you be disciplined to do one thing at a time? Try letting go of distractions and excuses to be mindful and focused towards your intention. Becoming aware of your own weaknesses is the first step in accepting and working through them.
When you work diligently, tirelessly towards a goal, you are practicing ant medicine, a Cherokee philosophy based on patience and perseverance. Ants are tiny but mighty creatures that can carry 30 times their own weight, which is like a 150-pound person carrying a bulldozer on their back that weighs 19,500 pounds. They trust the natural law that if they put in this hard work now, then the reward is just over the horizon. We can learn from these resolute ants that you can never give up on yourself or a difficult yoga pose or only practice half-heartedly.
So if you are cultivating self-discipline to create a lifestyle change, practice ant medicine and come back to your intention when things get challenging. Use tapas to reduce doubt, discouragement, and negativity. By igniting your internal fire, you can burn up impurities and transform your actions. Try cultivating tapas not only on your yoga mat but also while doing the dishes, eating a meal, and being kind to others. Any task worth doing is worth doing well.
Sanskrit name: Natarajasana
English translation: Dancer’s Pose
Benefits: Dancer’s pose is a heart opening posture that helps to stretch the shoulders, chest and thighs. Natarajasana also helps stretch the groin, thighs, and abdomen muscles while strengthening the ankles and legs.
Start at the top of your mat in Urdvha Hastasana, extended mountain pose.
EXHALE – release your right arm to your side with the soft part of your elbow facing away from your body.
INHALE- bend your right knee and reach with your right hand to the inner arch of your right foot.
EXHALE- begin to kick into your back right hand with the force of your right leg. Kick your leg back behind you in order for the body to shift forward.
Square your hips to your mat and keep your gaze, drishti, focused on point in front of you.
Modifications: Use the support of a wall or a partners hand to help with balance.
Also, if you experience any tightness in your shoulders or quadriceps, use a yoga strap to help give you the extension that is needed.
Sculpt Teacher Training
Have you ever thought about becoming a Yoga Sculpt teacher, but want to know more?
Join Yoga Sculpt Teacher Training Leads, Meghan Rohde (200 Hour-RYT, Yoga Sculpt Certified) and Ken Jones (200 Hour-RYT, Yoga Sculpt Certified) for a one-on-one look inside Yoga Sculpt Teacher Training.
We will share with you:
Friday, March 7th
At the Western Springs Studio
FREE and open to anyone interested in learning more about becoming a Yoga Sculpt Teacher with YBD
Please pre-register at any of our 3 locations:
Western Springs: 708-783-1226
Contact us at: