Blog 3: Yoga and Self-awareness

In our morning check-ins with Master Sree, one key theme kept repeating itself, which was how yoga can allow us to achieve self-awareness and self-conscious  in our daily lives, and the importance of having these two components – to lead us to have a more meaning life in our lifetime. One thing that struck me was what Master Sree said in the first week of our YTT training – by the age of 40, if we yet to fully understand ourselves as individuals, as human beings in this earth, this space, it might be too late to start searching for ourselves, and one way to avoid such situation is to begin being self-aware, being aware of ourselves, being conscious of our daily decisions in our lives.

Importance of self-awareness

Self awareness is defined to be the conscious knowledge of one’s own characters and feelings. This ability to narrow down and place a huge focus on ourselves – to better understand our thoughts, actions and emotions, and question if these aspects aligns with our inner values and principles we set for ourselves. An individual is defined to be self-aware if he or she can effectively and objectively conduct an evaluation on their own actions, thoughts and emotions, and align their behaviour with their principles. When one key aspect of their behaviour is not aligned with their core values and principles, they would be able to take the initiative to rectify and make a change. Being aware of ourselves – in situations and in the face of challenges is important, we will then be equipped and empowered to make improvements in our lives.

Yoga philosophy tied in with self-awareness

In our asana practise, as a form of excerise, yoga itself releases endorphins – creating some form of happiness in our daily lives. However, there’s more to what Yoga could offer – the asanas itself creates an opportunity for us to stay focus on our breathing and our actions, which allow us to be aware and conscious  of our mind, body and soul. In practise, svadhyaya, or otherwise known as self-study, often appears in my mind. The study of my breathing, my body reactions to different postures, the emotions that it brings at each pose true transition. Looking at Master’s Sree demonstration in class – I realised there alignment and adjustment doesn’t just happen for just yoga postures, but looking and observing other people will act as mirror for us to realise what is wrong and what needs to be corrected. I used to practise Yoga on an adhoc-basis, treating it as a mindless activity as it seemed to be a mental escape from my environment and the various commitments I have in my life. However, after weeks of YTT practise, I too realised that Yoga is not a mindless activity – it as a sequence of movements that requires me to be focused on myself – and such awareness mirrors the self-awareness we need in our lives as well. As what Master Sree has said: Life is like a pattern, you enter yoga to break the pattern. Sometimes people are prepared to die, but they are not prepared for changes.

Questions to check-in with ourselves:

At times  it is difficult to answer certain questions and be truly honest with ourselves – there are truths that we find it difficult to face and being humans, the preference to stick to our comfort zones often outweigh us acknowledging that there are things we need to change, or things we have to face. Facing the truth often indicates us leaving our comfort zone – a bubble where we live in self-denial and not willing to admit Nor accept certain parts of ourselves. However, one step to develop better self-awareness and self consciousness is to first face the harsh truths – there are things we dislike about ourselves, about other people, about the world, and it is okay to acknowledge it and not suppress it – as these makes us another component of us. Like the moon, we often have our bright, lighted side by the sun, we too have our own shadow side – the parts which we like to conceal and hide from others. However, accepting this part of us is often crucial, and understanding our shadow side will allow us to understand ourselves better, in our actions, thoughts and emotions. Some questions that we can ask ourselves may include:

  • What are the things you truly dislike – what do you dislike about yourself, your environment, and the world? Why?
  • Who/what do you hate, and why?
  • What can you change about yourself? Why?
  • Who do you envision to be, and who do you not wish to become?
  • Which version of yourself is the best version of yourself?
  • What defines you – what are you good at, what adjectives will you use to define yourself?
  • What decisions do you truly regret?