Discover Your Authentic Self Through Yoga
Exploring Swadhyaya: The Study of Oneself
Yoga offers a complete system of spiritual development through the Eight Limbs of Yoga. The second limb of yoga is known as the Niyamas or self-observations. When broken down even further there are five areas of self-observation with the fourth one being Swadyaya. When translated into English the term Swadhyaya means self-observation. Self-observation can be interpreted as many things and can be accomplished through many means. One way, for example, is to study sacred texts or scriptures to help us understand ourselves better. Other approaches include meditation, journaling, modern day therapy or simply talking with friends or family members who know us best.
I believe we best learn about ourselves through our relationships and daily interactions with the people around us. Over time we may be forced to change some of our attitudes, patterns, habits or inclinations because our old ways are just not working for us. These patterns are often hard to recognize, even harder to accept, and hardest to change. However, we might also be compelled to change some things about ourselves because we think that changing will make us a better person, make us more likeable, make us more successful, or because we want to please others. Doing this almost always results in failure.
The truth is who we are is part of our DNA. Anyone who has ever had children can attest to the fact that certain personality traits are evident almost from birth. Traits not taught to them by either parent nor by any caregiver. No matter how hard we work on changing ourselves there are some things that make us who we are and to change them would be fraudulent to our true selves. In fact, we all owe it to ourselves, to everyone we meet, and to life itself to always be an expression of our true selves. Trying to be anything or anyone else would deprive us of our true authentic self. Being inauthentic deprives the Universe of who we came here to be and what we came here to express.
Self-development and self-growth are all important practices to reach the ultimate goal of enlightenment or union with the Divine but we must tread lightly on the path and not lose the extraordinariness of ourselves along the way.
Science Agrees; Yoga Has Significant Effect on Cellular Health
It’s no secret there are innumerable health benefits to practicing yoga. Incorporating different elements of yoga into your life can result in profoundly positive changes to your mental and physical state. But what if implementing these yogic practices could actually affect your cellular composition? This might come as no surprise to swamis and devout yogis, but now science is beginning to find evidence that this may be true in both quantum and physiological studies.
Changes at the Micro Level
Our bodies replicate and produce new cells at a rate of roughly two million per second. Over the course of a day, that adds up to hundreds of billions of new cells. Aside from growth, many of these cells have different roles, often producing different proteins needed for necessary bodily functions. But with so much of this cell growth occurring, there is plenty of opportunities for mistakes and mutations to occur.
Of course, our bodies have systems for repairing faulty cells, but the process can go one of two ways. When a cell is found to be mutated, it is essentially told to destroy itself. These cells contain substances that can be harmful if expelled suddenly in a process called necrosis. Certain cellular substances can be toxic to other cells around them leading to inflammation and other negative side effects, known as cytotoxicity. But when this cell death occurs in a controlled process called apoptosis, the cell is contained with none of the potentially harmful material escaping and interacting with other cells.
Cell necrosis can be caused by a number of things, ranging from physical trauma to toxins and pathogens. And when our bodies experience illness and disease, the whole process of cell renewal can become inhibited and bogged down. Cell growth and repair can also be hindered by heat and stress.
A change in just a few degrees can lead to the unraveling of cell proteins and their subsequent death. Stress from environmental factors can also affect us at a cellular level, to the point that it can have a negative impact on hereditary traits passed down to our children. So, what can we do to prevent this?