by Suzanne Scholten

History is the study of past events. In honor of this special month of Black History, I would like to look at the importance of knowing your personal history. As you dive into your yoga practice, you become the history book. Yoga is Self study, also known in sanskrit as Svadhyaya. You can not heal without knowing your own history of how you learned how to move, eat, why you enjoy certain activities and dislike others, what your own birth was like, and what your personal habits and constant feelings are that guide you to act and react? Then take a step further and look at your family traits, how your family communicates with one another, and the genetic make-up of your family. With this knowledge we are able to change the wheel of karma, to heal ourselves, and to eventually realize that we were all created as a reflection of the Divine.

The book ‘Yoga & Psychotherapy’ by Swami Rama gives a brief description of yoga psychology; the theory that we create our environment rather than having it imposed upon us. If our present situation was brought about by our past actions, thoughts and desires, this implies that we can also transform this environment through our present and future actions. The unconscious mind needs to be explored and analyzed as this uncharted mind is full of memories, desires and clues to assist us on our path to the goal of true knowledge. But the darkness that can be stored in these past impressions takes a lot courage and determination to master and overcome. The practice of yoga is not always easy, but it is for those with purpose, will power, and a curious heart to know their history in order to change their present and future.

With this information, we can see why it is so important to not only study our own habits and lifestyles, but to ask why, how, when and what to our families. The more history we know, the more our practice will evolve. We can let go of the attachments that do not feed or nurture us and we can start to understand that a lot of our family and personal actions are mere habits that we never took the time to study.

Personal Practice: Start to see your body as your best friend; someone you would never put down or talk badly about and then mentally observe where your body feels discomfort and then ask why. This may sound strange but start the conversation with your body and then listen to it. See if you can tap into some of its history.