Guest Article: Liz Heffernan on Svadyaya

Here’s Liz Heffernan on the yogic concept of Svadyaya. In the system of Ashtanga or Patanjali Yoga, the path is described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as consisting of 8 steps or limbs: Yama (observances toward others) Niyama (observances toward ones self) Asana (Postures) Pranayama (Controlling the Breath) Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses) Dharana (Concentration) Dhyana (unbroken, flowing concentration) and Samadhi (Freedom.) Within the yamas and niyamas you find 10 principles which are guidelines on how to live well and purify one’s self so that meditation is easier. Svadyaya falls under the Niyamas and is loosely translated as Self-Study or the study of spiritual texts.


By Liz Heffernan


Svadhyaya is one of my favorite aspects of the Yoga path.  It is this ingredient that helps me become less judgmental, less attached and more accepting of myself, others and the world around me.   This concept often refers to the study of yoga's reflective texts and philosophical teachings. It can also be translated as 'self study' which implies an honest, compassionate attention to self reflection.  Each one of us has this capacity, especially when we take the time to realize and develop svadhyaya on our yoga mat and at the same time extend it into our daily life.  As a result of self- reflection we learn to pause, uproot the patterns which no longer serve us and choose, instead, thoughts and actions which heal our physical body, uplift our relationships and ultimately bring more joy into our lives.

One of the best ways to dive into the practice of svadhyaya is through a deep immersion as part of a supportive group experience. Om Shala Yoga's upcoming Yoga Teacher Training programs are open to all sincere students with a deep interest in yoga.  In these trainings, we  create a nurturing community to embrace us as we practice, breathe, study, discuss, meditate, and reflect together.  Our programs cover the full spectrum of yoga including postures, alignment, adjustments, modifications, pranayama, philosophy, anatomy, meditations and much, much more.  The curriculum and assignments in and out of class will provide the road map; our community of like-minded yogis will provide the inspiration.  

Sharing yoga is only truly possible when it comes from deep personal experience. If you wish to be supported in self-study to deepen your practice, refine your yoga postures, explore tools for positive change and access your amazing potential, please join us.   

You can get to know Liz in her regular classes on Tuesday mornings at 9am for Align and Flow and at a 4:30 Wednesdays and Fridays for a mindful Vinyasa class.  Dive deeper with Liz in the our 200 hour weekend format teacher training that begins early November and finishes at beautiful Breitenbush Retreat center in early April. There will be a free open house and information night for anyone with questions about deepening your practice through this format.

YTT Info Night Tuesday October 23 7:15-8pm

About the Author


Liz Heffernan, is a dedicated Yoga practitioner first and a teacher second.  You can find her teaching classes at Om Shala Yoga: Tuesdays at 9:00am and Wednesday and Fridays at 4:30pm.  She is also one of the lead instructors in the Om Shala Yoga Teacher Training program beginning on November 9. Her complete bio can be found here: