Yamas are considered restraints in the Yoga Sutras of Pantajali. In essence, they are the “Laws of Life” and make up one of the eight limbs. This month, we would like to discuss the second yama – Satya.
Satya means truthfulness. While the yamas aren’t always looked at from the angle of restraint, satya is the perfect example of how yamas encourage us to slow down and contemplate things.
In the case of truthfulness, we are encouraged to slow down and contemplate the words that we speak and the thoughts that we think. This lines us up to coordinate with the first yama of ahimsa.
Pantajali states that words which comply with satya can only flow from the place of ahimsa (non-violence)
Sometimes speaking your truth can feel like one of the most challenging endeavours, specifically because knowing the truth is not always something that comes easily.
So how does this translate into an asana yoga practice? When we come to our mats, we do so with an intention to find a sense of presence. Being able to hold space in a light that leaves past issues and future concerns aside.
It is in this space that we learn to slow down. We move our bodies to a rhythm of the breath which is slow and thoughtful. In slowing down our physical selves, we in turn slow down the mind and perhaps even the ego.
In asana, satya is very close to ahimsa. In the effort to find mindfulness within the practice, just as we do nothing that causes physical harm, by learning to listen to the truth of the body we can practice confidently and safely.
It is under these layers that we can reveal the truth. When we stop to listen to that inner voice, we unearth what it is that is buried deep down under the influences of those around us.
The word satya breaks down into the word ‘sat’ which loosely translated means true essence, or true nature. Satya refers to what is unchangeable and without distortion.
If we think of our patterns on a daily basis, our moods and emotions are constantly fluctuating. In the act of practicing satya, the foundation of ourselves remains unchanging therefore is the essence of our truth.
Off the mat, living with satya means speaking from that place of truth, rather than our surface moods or fluctuations.
So when we take the time to slow down the mind, enough times and with conviction, eventually those lessons translate into everyday life.
Longer reaction times mean more thoughtful and careful responses to everyday challenges. When life gets hard, acting from a place of truth becomes even more beneficial as it trumps the place of reactive emotion.
Like all of the yamas, satya is achievable with practice and dedication. It is a devotion to truth both on and off the mat.