Did you know that at its root yoga is a practice more concerned with the flexibility, strength, and resilience of the mind and consciousness, than that of the body? Classical yoga is an eight limb path of which asana, or postures, is just one limb. In fact, asana is the third of the eight limbs. When we view yoga through the lens of the eight fold path it becomes a guiding philosophy that helps us make our way through the world more at peace with ourselves and those around us.
The first two limbs are the yamas (restraints) and the niyamas (observances). The yamas and niyamas are often described as yoga’s moral or ethical code, but they are not as much about strict right and wrong as they are behaviors and attitudes that lead us away from suffering and toward contentment. Yoga teacher and author Donna Farhi, describes them as ten qualities of goodness. Farhi states, “When we are centered within our true nature, these qualities shine forth.”
This month at Breathe we will be focusing on the second yama, satya. Translated as truthfulness, satya, is the living embodiment of our truth. A big part of this journey through life is learning to be true to ourselves, learning to be authentic. An integrated practice of satya asks us to look deeply at how we communicate with ourselves and others, the choices that make up the fabric of our lives and how we move through our days. Are we being honest with ourselves? Are we being honest in our relationships? Is our ego overriding our integrity?
This level of self-awareness requires courage to be honest and willing to look at our choices; and it’s important to do this with compassion. There is a reason the first yama, ahimsa, comes before satya. As we look at our truth, are we in any way harming ourselves or others. Always be compassionate and kind through this process of self-discovery.
We invite you to join us in bringing more awareness to the practice of truthfulness this month (and beyond). Here are a few ways to get started:
- Pay attention to your thoughts. Our minds are incredibly powerful. The thoughts we have today create seeds for future action. If we nurture untruthful seeds they have the potential to grow into dishonest action. Be fiercely honest with yourself. We tell ourselves many things, but are they 100% true? If not, then avoid feeding these thoughts and giving them more attention. Notice what happens outwardly as you shift your inner landscape to a more trustful place.
- Honor your body. Treat your body as the gift that it is by taking good care of it. Our bodies are amazing, capable of many complex movements, yet there are not indestructible. If we push our bodies too far in yoga, or anything else, we aren’t being honest with ourselves and the result may be injury. Yoga practice is not meant to be punishment, it’s a practice of self-care. Are you approaching your practice in this caring and nurturing way? What needs to shift in order for you to do so?
- Allow your yoga practice to help you gain perspective and clarity. There is a story of man who enters a dark room and becomes frightened as he sees a coiled snake in the corner. When the room is illuminated he realizes it is a coil of rope. His emotional response, which felt so gripping and real, was based on a myth. Yoga can help illuminate our journey with clearer insight. Notice limiting beliefs you have about yourself and others. Take this month as an opportunity to examine the living truth of thought and action. How are your limiting beliefs stopping you from reaching your potential? How are your beliefs about others keeping you disconnected? Can you shift your beliefs to a more open and loving place?
For continued reading on how to practice satya check out this article on Gaia.
“Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.”