Yamas: Satya [Truthfulness]

Despite the common association that yoga is something to be experienced solely on a mat, there are actually many facets to the practice. In fact, yoga is comprised of eight limbs. One of these is the postures, yes, but another is the yamas, or “restraints.”

Though it might sound counterintuitive, the yamas serve as an ethical guideline for more freedom and authenticity in life. This particular limb of yoga can be regarded for its social component; specifically, the ethical guidelines provided are meant for the empowerment and betterment of the self and others.

As I mentioned in my previous post about ahimsa (nonviolence), there can, of course, be so much room for error. What is right for one person may not be right for another. In this sense, the yamas are trusting you to make the best decision possible for everyone involved.

In particular, today’s topic is satya, meaning “truthfulness.” Just as ahimsa represented much more than surface level lends, so, too, is satya delicately nuanced.

Where ahimsa yields compassion and courage, satya offers authenticity and fluidity. Truthfulness extends beyond stating fact–so often, we fear truth. We run from it. We sleep off our feelings instead of expressing them. We dull our emotions with distractions. We say the nice thing instead of the real thing. When we have spent years and/or decades of engaging in these behaviors, satya can feel quite foreign. This is because sometimes, it feels like falsehood gives us more of a break. Satya requires that we take action; very rarely are we let off the hook after honoring a truth. You cannot admit to yourself that you are x and then leave a given situation as it is. Satya asks us to show up in a way that is true to our essence.

Truthfulness is self-expression, through open communication, through art, through movement, through action. Even more so, it asks that we do these things right. This means that we show up authentically. When we embrace our authenticity, it frees up space we never learned to account for. A weight lifts off of us, and the pressure cooker releases.

Of course, you do not have to know all the time; we are always growing and changing, and your truth can adapt. In this sense, satya is a call for self-exploration. Satya embraces ambiguity, even if you are afraid. Take ownership of the unknown. It will exist within you, and also without you. When you give yourself permission to be you, you give permission for everything else to be as it is. [Even the fear.]

Further Discussion:

  • What makes you feel authentic or true to self? Are there any particular activities that satya reminds you of?
  • Can you think of a time that you wish you had embodied satya?
  • Are there any people, places, or things, that the concept of satya asks you to show up more authentically for? Are there any areas that it is asking you to be more accepting of?

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