From self-consciousness to self-awareness.
Yoga and self-awareness go hand in hand. In fact you might say that yoga’s purpose is to bring you into a greater sense of self awareness or self knowledge. Sometimes self-awareness and self-consciousness are used synonymously in fact this very subject has been coming up for me lately. Self-awareness is the ability to look inside and to recognize oneself as an individual being that is separate from the environment around you and other individuals. When feeling self-conscious we become preoccupied with the smallest details of our actions and how others might be perceiving them. With thoughts like “is everyone looking at me” and “what are they thinking” we might be coming from a place of low self-esteem or embarrassment of who we are rather than self-awareness. When we are in a state of self-awareness we are noticing details but in a much different way. Have ever been in an accident and experienced everything happening in slow motion? This is a heightened state of awareness. With practice we can learn this heightened state and find the space to actually interpret our thoughts and emotions rather than falling into the pattern of self-consciousness.
From the ancient tradition of yoga we learn that to truly be in a state of self-awareness we must learn to quiet the mind. The breath has been used universally as a link for developing self-awareness. In fact the beauty of unifying breath and movement, or life, is Yoga. For thousands of years the word yoga has been emphasized as union, oneness, and love. When we step into a this type of awareness we move outside of our thoughts and notice a different perspective. We may begin to notice our personality, our strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, values, motivation, emotions in any given moment. We learn to notice where our thoughts and emotions are taking us without judgment. This gives us the opportunity to change the thoughts and interpretations of our mind. When we change the interpretations of our mind we can begin to change our emotions. Now we decide how we will behave and respond, we choose our actions. With this type of awareness we are victorious.
Ujjayi pranayama (pronounced oo-jai), is an ancient yogic breathing technique that helps calm the mind and body. Commonly translated as “victorious breath,” Ujjayi is a diaphragmatic breath which first fills the lower belly, rises to the lower rib cage, and finally moves into the upper chest and throat. Air enters the lungs and the belly expands during this type of breathing rather than the chest.
Experience it here… (You can practice this as you read or have someone slowly read you the following text aloud and put in a break after each section.):
Each of us is already infinitely wondrous--
miraculous, awe-inspiring, unfathomable
(Divine if you prefer)
Our wondrous nature is the same as the infinite wonder of the universe.
We experience this infinite wonder by waking up to reality.
~ Quote from Gita in a nutshell #4
My spiritual name is Sivakami, which means... one who desires transformation and/or one who transforms desires. I live in Rifle, Colorado where I teach yoga, create art and love life. I would love to hear your comments.