5/18/2019 The theme for this week is "awareness" or "self-study." In yoga, it's called Svadhyaya. One of the many gifts of yoga practice is the art of self-study. In yoga, we are both observing and the observed. Awareness takes us "out of the storm" in our minds, and helps to remove us just enough to (1) take care of our needs in the moment, and (2) give us room enough to breathe in the moment to have thoughtful responses rather than reactions. Taking care of our needs in the moment might be to give ourselves a prop in yoga class or take a break, it might be to excuse ourselves from a situation that has high anxiety in order to calm down, it may be to take care of our basic needs such as nutrition and hydration when we are overwhelmed in emotion. When we practice yoga for a while, we really get to know our bodies well and can sense when our anxiety begins to arise. Rather than "grin and bear it," self-awareness allows us to keep breathing deeply in order to stay in parasympathetic brain mode where we respond to crises rather than react out of emotion. It allows us to speak with intention and kindness, it allows us to make thoughtful decisions for our or others' well-being, and it helps us to keep our stress hormones from ruling our body. There is more. There is so much more. Does it happen immediately? Perhaps. More often, awareness and self-study are layers of an onion to be peeled, a road to be traveled upon, and a wonderful and peace-finding journey which takes us to places of light, self-love and forgiveness.