Truth in Your Yoga Practice

truthOver the past day or so, I have been thinking about what it means to be truthful. Satya or truthfulness is the second of five yamas. The yamas are restraints meant as guides along the path of yoga.

What is truth?

It seems that each of us has a personal version of truth and what it means. For example, if a group of people see the same thing happen (like a car accident) they will likely recount different versions of the incident. This truth is subjective.

Satya and Ahimsa (Truth and non-harming)

We might think of truthfulness as not telling lies. This seems straightforward. However there are situations where being honest is hurtful. For example, if a dear friend gives you a gift that you don’t really like, would you tell her? Most likely you would say how much you loved it. Psychologists call these prosocial lies. In yogic terms, we let the principle of ahimsa (non-harming) guide us so as not to hurt our friend’s feelings.

Many of the world’s great teachings suggest that what we say has a great impact on our lives. Satya is about slowing down and thinking about both what we say as well as how we say it.

My boys are very loud and energetic. Which is awesome, I love it. But not always … I can say to them “Guys! Quiet! You’re driving me crazy!!!” or “Guys I really need some quiet right now.” Both true statements. But no doubt with different effects on the recipients of my words.
In yoga, satya refers to more than just not telling lies. It is about “removing the veil of self-deception.” This means avoiding distortion and embellishment of thetruth, being honest with other people and also with oneself.

Notice the truth in your yoga practice.

This week I decided to try a new yoga class. It was power yoga, not my typical style. We did a series of standing poses all involving lunge and plank. We held each pose for a looooong time.

I really wanted to like it. I was trying to force myself to stay in the poses even though my leg muscles were super tired from an earlier workout and my injured shoulder was begging me to get the heck out of side plank. I resisted because I didn’t want to give up.

At some point along the way I realized that I was not being honest with myself. I generally love a challenge. However, in this class I was not thriving on the challenge nor the intensity. It just wasn’t what my body needed at that time. I started throwing in child’s poses and downward dogs with wild abandon 🙂 I found my true practice.

Do you ever tell yourself that you just can’t do a pose even if you have never tried it? Or do you tell yourself that a pose isn’t painful when really it is? (hello me …)
Try practicing truthfulness in your poses and classes this week. Listen carefully to your inner voice and respect what you hear. I think that is where you will find the wisdom of truth.

Have a wonderful week.

Photo Courtesy of Geraint Rowland

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