Swadhyaya: self-study; study of the nature of the Self

This is an ongoing series of monthly online talks and meditations, guided by Swami Saradananda. The programme is designed to support yoga teachers and serious practitioners in their self-study and personal practice. Each session will focus on the application of an aspect of yoga philosophy to daily life.

Attendance is by donation:

25 Sept, Sun, 6:30-7:30pm: Navaratri

The start of the 9-night celebration of the divine feminine. The first three nights mark the initial stage of your spiritual journey: purification. These days are set apart for the worship of the Mother in the form of Durga. Once you have broken down negative habits and propensities, the next step on the spiritual path is personified as Lakshmi: your ability to nurture and strengthen your positive qualities. Only when you have cleansed your negative propensities and are strong enough, are you are ready to receive the light of wisdom, as personified by Saraswati.

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23 Oct, Sun, 7-8pm: Diwali: Indian festival of light

The Indian festival of light is a joyous celebration to mark one of the darkest nights of the year. It is said to be the night that Lakshmi (good-fortune) looks for her home for the coming year. Join us for a talk and meditation on the self-luminous inner light of the Self that is shining steadily in the chambers of your heart.

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13 Nov, Sun, 6:30-7:30pm: Siddhis: extraordinary powers

“Siddhi” literally means perfection, spiritual power or psychic ability. Patanjali devotes a quarter of the Yoga Sutra to the discussion of siddhis, citing various strengths you develop through the protracted practice of meditation. These natural by-products of your yoga practice can become obstacles to your enlightenment if they are misused or cause your mind to continue to turn outward.

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11 Dec, Sun, 6:30-7:30pm: Aparigraha: non-greed and gratitude

Yoga practice tends to speed up your karma, intensifying your need for ethical behaviour. Aparigraha in daily life reflects your progress on the path of yoga. As you live with and practice these values, you will find your behaviour and thoughts starting to change in very positive directions.

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15 Jan, Sun, 6:30-7:30pm: Makara Shankranti

This is the day when the Earth changes direction in its elliptical path around the Sun. It is the start of Devāyana, the path towards the light, a six-month period that is highly favourable for doing intensive yoga practice. Swadhyaya (self-study) will be the topic of the evening’s talk and meditation.

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19 Feb, Sun, 6:30-7:30pm: Sivaratri - the night of Siva

On the new-moon night dedicated to Siva, the original teacher of yoga, join Swami Saradananda for a guided meditation and talk on Ishwara-pranidhana (surrendering the ego).

I salute the primeval lord, Siva, who taught Parvati the hatha-yoga-vidya, which is as a stairway for those who wish to attain samadhi. - Hatha Yoga Pradipika, 1.1

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12 March, Sun, 6:30-7:30pm: Holi

The Spring festival presents the opportunity to burn physical, mental and emotional impurities. Prepare for a ‘spring cleaning’ with meditation and talk on the yoga principles of śaucha (purification) and kriyas (cleansing actions).

16 April, Sun, 6:30-7:30 PM: Salute to Hanuman

Hanuman, son of the wind, is the patron of prānāyāma. He represents the steady mind, unaffected by what it experiences through the senses.  Prānāyāma can help your mind to be more focused; regular practice leads to pratyahara, concentration and meditation.

21 May, Sun, 6:30-7:30pm: Abhyasa-Vairagya

Achieving inner peace requires regular steady practice (abhyasa) with detachment (vairagya). The talk and meditation will focus on becoming less distracted by attraction (raga) and dislikes (dvesha)

18 June, Sun, 6:30-7:30pm: Churning the Consciousness

Enjoy the stories of one of the core myths of yoga; this narrative provides important keys to enhancing your ability to draw the senses inward and control desires. The evening’s talk and meditation will combine storytelling and analysis in a way that will assist you in obtaining a deeper understanding of your yoga practice.

9 July, Sun, 6:30-7:30pm: Integrating Siva and Shakti

Create a balance of natural intuition and compassionate action. Join us for meditation and an exploration of the philosophical and energetic principles represented by Siva (consciousness) and Shakti (energy). Yoga, as a spiritual tradition, holds that each person is born with infinite potential. To assist you in unlocking your potential, the ancient rishis provided a vast array of stories in which philosophical truths were encoded into spiritual symbols.

13 Aug, Sun, 6:30-7:30pm: Krishna’s flute: becoming a pure instrument

Bhakti (devotion) involves ways of acting, thinking and willing that channel the emotions and orient you towards inner peace. You attempt to become a pure instrument, as symbolised by the flute, so that divine energy can flow unhampered. The talk and meditation will focus on bhakti (devotion) as represented in stories of Krishna.

17 Sept, Sun, 6:30-7:30pm: Ganesha Chaturthi – Ganesha’s birthday

Celebrate with an evening of story-telling and meditation, focusing on some of his myths and anecdotes. Ganesha is archetypal remover of obstacles; he presents you with gateways to new dimensions in your yoga practice.

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