The Secret to Getting Out of a Rut & Into Living Your Most Vibrant, Authentic Life

Do you feel stuck? In part 4 of this kriya yoga series, yoga teacher Laura Riley shares three stages of svadhyaya practice to help you live life as who you truly are.

When our spiritual lives and day-to-day actions are out of sync, we lose the ability to intuit. Yes, intuit as a verb. (As Deepak Chopra said, “There are no nouns in this alive universe.”) The less we intuit, the more disconnected we are from our selves, and the more inert we feel. The solution to this is internal activism, a practice of many parts including svadhyaya, or self-study.

Svadhyaya is one of the components of kriya yoga, the yoga of action.

I think of svadhyaya as a differentiating factor (that and the breath) between exercising and practicing asana. In asana, you move in ways that stretch and tone your body. That alone is a healthy endeavor but doesn’t give you any insight about your physical, emotional, or mental wellbeing. If, however, you pay attention to how your body, breath, and mood feel as you’re moving through asanas—or at least compare the beginning versus the end of practice—that is yoga. It is yoga because you are studying the self, noticing how choices and movements affect you, and perhaps even feeling gratitude in the process.

What If You Tried These 3 Tips to Grow Into the Best Version of Yourself?

If you want to reach your full potential, Baron Baptiste suggests starting with self-inquiry.

Want to unlock an unexpected world of possibility in your practice—and your life? Then Yoga Journal’s upcoming course The Power of Play Bootcamp is for you. Baron Baptiste—veteran yoga teacher and founder of the Baptiste Institute and Baptiste Foundation—will lead you through four weeks of meditation, asana, and self-inquiry specifically designed to spark awakening and growth. Start the new year with a powerful perspective—and discover how to put it into action.

The act of being open to discovering something you haven’t seen before is the first step in turning your life into something greater. But you have to know where to look. The best place is within. I call this “inquiry,” or svadhyaya in Sanskrit. Your willingness to discover yourself also acknowledges that you haven’t arrived and that there is more to learn. As B.K.S. Iyengar said, “The minute you think you’ve arrived, you get squashed like a bug.”

Inquiry can bring about empowering and permanent shifts in your quality of life, health, and being. That’s the work that we focus on in my new course The Power of Play Bootcamp.

I’ve learned that it’s good to remember that there is always more to learn and more to discover about who I am—my strengths, my gifts, my flaws, my fears, my pain, and my compulsions. I’ve seen that the instant I become filled up with my “knowingness” and know-how about something I tend to get stuck.

Sometimes, too, if you’re anything like me, you might get caught up in self-destructive patterns. But if we can see those patterns clearly for what they are and unlock the unresolved past, then it’s possible for that old energy to disintegrate in the light of our awareness. Then it begins to lose its grip on us and wither away. There is tremendous power in just knowing what is going on within—not so you can “work on your stuff,” but so you can begin to integrate it, shine light on it, heal it, and ultimately release it. If there is something or someone to forgive, you can open up to doing that work in yourself and creating a new way.