Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Hello Dear Ones,

In a recent post, we began an exploration of the yamas and niyamas, or restraints and observances, which are an essential piece of the yoga lifestyle. I shared a little bit about ahimsa, or the practice of non-violence. Today I'd like to speak about another one of the yamas, the practice of satya, or "truth."

On the most basic and obvious level, satya means not lying. It means telling the truth. We fess up and come clean when we've made a mistake. We practice saying what we mean, and meaning what we say. We strive to be honest in our words.

Where it gets tricky is when satya bumps up against ahimsa. In our zeal to be brutally honest, is our truth-telling causing hurt to another person? When do we need to temper satya with gentleness and tact? For example, do we tell Aunt Bertha that the sweater she sent is ugly and we would never wear it? Or do we lie and say how much we love it?  How do we find the skillful language that balances being honest and kind? 

On a deeper level that pervades all aspects of our lives, the practice of satya calls us towards authenticity.  It means being true to ourselves. not hiding or pretending to be someone else, and not being afraid to speak out and show who we truly are.

One of my teachers at Kripalu, Dinabandhu Sarley, says that something powerful happens when what we say, what we think, what we feel, and what we do are all in alignment. That power is called authenticity. One's ability to be effective and fully alive is contingent upon one's ability to be in alignment, or authentic. When there is a disconnect between these areas--when we are doing/thinking/feeling/saying all different things--our life energy becomes blocked. We become like a hose that is kinked in 4 places.

So, satya is being authentic--bringing our thoughts, words, feelings and actions into alignment. This allows prana to flow through us unimpeded, making available to us a life that's filled with more power. Just as alignment is important in asana practice, it's equally (if not more) important in how we move through the world off the mat.

On a more expansive level, satya calls us to seek spiritual truth, to discover the Divine Oneness that holds everything together. The highest expression of satya would be to transcend the world of illusion and awaken to the deeper truths of Reality--to see the True Self beyond the limited, egoic self. Satya is being who we truly are.

When you seek the Truth, you are seeking God. Truth is God. Truth exists; so too, God exists. Truth must be considered as life giving as breath itself. Just as a person with no breath in him becomes useless, life without Truth is useless and becomes a dwelling place of strife and grief. Believe that there is nothing greater than Truth; nothing more precious, nothing sweeter and nothing more lasting. ~Sathya Sai Baba

Some questions for self examination with regard to satya might be:

  • Is there an area of my being that I'm afraid to let others see? Am I "in the closet" about who I am? If so, what impact has that had on my life?
  • Are there areas of my life where I don't "walk my talk"? In what ways are my actions inconsistent with my speech?
  • What are 3 ways that I can be more true to myself?
  • What are 3 ways that I can be more truthful to others?
  • Is there someone I've lied to, in either the recent or distant past, that I need to come clean with and to whom I need to make amends (remember, making amends clears the way toward our own freedom)?
  • What are the ways in which I do honor my truth? What are the ways that I do speak, act and live authentically?

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.   ~Steve Jobs

If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything. ~Mark Twain

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