Svadhyaya

Last week, my classes focused on svadhyaya, or self-study. Using a familiar template—sun salutations—I encouraged my students to freestyle, choosing poses or variations as they found appropriate. I was delighted to see some beautiful, spontaneous yoga in response to this prompt.

Often we’re too intimidated to create our own practices, relying on our teachers, DVDs, or books to tell us exactly what to do. After we come to understand the basic systems, we should learn from self-study, as Erich Schiffmann recommends in his beautiful book on yoga, to pause, listen inwardly for guidance, then move based on that internal cue.

The same self-knowledge is important in training and racing. Don’t rely on your coach to dictate exactly what each workout must be. If you realize you need an easy day, you should take it. If you see a chance to make a move in a race, it may be smart to go for it.
It’s planned obsolescence on my part, as a yoga teacher and endurance sports coach, but it ultimately serves you best to follow your own needs. Sure, rely on authorities to learn the general structure, but trust yourself to make decisions, too.