Satya / Truthfulness

Satya / Truthfulness

In preparation for Jeff Perlman’s upcoming “The Eight Limbs of Yoga” workshop (6/4) at Goorus, we thought it might be a good idea to briefly touch on the eight limbs.

The yogic journey, as defined by Patanjali* is an eight-fold path. The eight limbs act as guidelines for how to live a healthy and meaningful life, tuned into one’s own purpose and spiritual nature. The eight limbs of yoga are:

1.    Yamas:  Universal codes of behavior/morality

2.    Niyamas:  Personal observances

3.    Asanas:  Physical postures/poses

4.    Pranayama:  Breath control/exercises

5.    Pratyahara:  Control of the senses

6.    Dharana: Concentration

7.    Dhyana:  Devotion/meditation

8.    Samadhi:  Bliss/union with the divine

Yamas create the framework of a universal society of order and fairness, of basic tenets of property and contracts.

The second of the Yamas is Satya. Satya is truthfulness or non-lying.

We can practice Satya in yoga by:
·      Being realistic about today: Where you’re at physically, mentally, and emotionally is important when you come to the mat.
·      Owning where you’re at in your practice.  Being happy and content with whatever you can do on any particular day is the true magic of yoga.
·      Notifying your teacher of any injuries so s/he can make sure you get the most out of the class and stay safe.
·      Using the quiet time in practice to reflect on the value of your words.
·      If you are a new student, arriving 10 minutes before class to sign up.  Not only will this will give you time to get oriented, it will also give you a few minutes to settle before class starts.
·      If you are a regular/returning student, arrive 5 minutes early to check-in at the front desk, find your spot in the room and give yourself a few moments to clear your mind.
·      If you need to leave early, notifying your teacher beforehand and being respectful of your fellow students as you leave the space.
·      Turning off your cell phones.
·      As a teacher, practicing regularly so your teaching is a truthful representation of your experience and being honest with your students about your own yoga challenges and goals.

Words have power. Truth has power.  When our words and actions are in alignment with one another, we are being true to our selves as well as truthful with others.

We can practice Satya in life by:
·      Not lying to others or ourselves.
·      Being an attentive listener and thanking others for their honesty.
·      Noticing how our words affect others.  Being mindful that what we say is beneficial in a compassionate and gentle way.
·      Following through on our commitments.
·      Learning to say no.

One way we can know we are living our truth is that feeling of peace and contentment with ourselves at the end of the day, even though our choices may not have been easy.

Practice tips: 

Ø  Satya is about integrity, walking the walk and honoring who you are. Journal or meditate on your general truthfulness. Do you lie to yourself about something on a regular basis? Is it about something big or something small? What purpose does this untruth serve?

Ø  Satya follows ahimsa, the highest-ranking yama.  This means that we need to honor the principle of non-harming first and should tell the truth only if it doesn’t cause harm, or tell it in such a way that it causes the least harm.

Ø  According to the wisdom of the sages, it is better to remain silent than to speak a harsh or cruel truth.  The Greek philosopher Sophocles said, “Truly, to tell lies is not honorable; but when the truth entails tremendous ruin, to speak dishonorably is pardonable.”

Ø  Before we offer an unsolicited opinion or criticism, the ancients advise us to pause and consider:  Is it true?  Is it necessary?  Is it useful?  Is it kind?

*the ancient sage said to have authored the Yoga Sutras, a foundational text of yoga

Gretchen Lightfoot

A Yoga Alliance RYT-500, Gretchen trained with Carmen Fitzgibbon, Thomas Taubman, and Gigi Snyder of YogaWorks in Los Angeles. Gretchen’s teaching experience includes YogaWorks, Neutrogena, Fancy Feet Dance Studio, the Palisades Library, the Palisades Rec Center, and one-on-one work with a number of private clients throughout LA.

Gretchen’s classes vary in style. Her weekday morning classes run from a balanced, all-level flow to a chilled-out yin practice, to an Iyengar-style wall practice. Sunday morning flow tends to be a little more energetic (expect music). Regardless of the style, Gretchen encourages practitioners to listen to their bodies and modify where needed.