Honesty – in actions & words
Satya is the second Yama (Yamas are the first limb of yoga) and is all about honesty and truth – speaking your truth, living your truth and being honest in your actions and words – all whilst embodying the first Yama, Ahimsa.
Our views and our lives are based upon our experiences, beliefs, conditioning and mindset – and all of us have different experiences and upbringings that create different beliefs and conditioning. We each live and seek our own unique truth, which can feel vastly different to those around us. The more we practice Satya, the more we realise we are much the same. Same-same, but different…
There is real freedom born from practicing truthfulness. Thinking, speaking and acting from a place of integrity, care and kindness does wonders for every single person involved. It is a true act of love.
On the mat
When we hit the mat, we are invited to take a good look at ourselves. Our patterns, habits and state of mind emerge showing us a deep insight into our lives and whether we are truly happy with where we are at, what we are doing, and how we respond to situations outside of our control.
It can be easy to simply fall into the physical realm of practice at the start, but after a while it is hard to hide from the way you think and feel. If you find the right teacher then the calling to start peeling back the layers can be strong, and a pivotal point for transformation.
Yoga was designed to harmonise and nourish the mind, however, injuries are far too common in this practice. We all have physical limits which can be gently shifted with patience and practice, but when we push past them just to get into that certain yoga pose it’s easy to hurt ourselves or cause physical pain. This is an important step in the practice and in embodying Satya. In every moment we witness and observe how we feel and we practice in a way that is loving and kind and in accordance to how we are on each given day. Everyday the body, mind and emotions are different and we need to honour that in a way that is completely honest.
By observing the state of the breath we can indicate whether it’s time to move deeper. If the breath is short, strained, shallow or rapid, perhaps it’s a reminder to back off. If we are scrunching up the face or feeling intensity in the joints, this is the body telling you it’s not entirely happy with being pushed in this way.
It’s important to play with our edge and to stretch our capacity, but it’s even more important to be truthful with where we are at in each moment.
Off the mat
Honesty is the foundation of any great relationship, and even though, at times, it can be challenging to be completely honest, it’s so important that we always remember Ahimsa. Compassion plays a vital role in Satya.
Slowing down in our mat practice, backing off where we would usually push, and allowing ourselves to be truly and deeply present, teaches us how to be truthful with how we feel out in the real world where it counts the most.
When we slow down, it allows our internal processing system to speed up. This means that when we sit in a place of discomfort or we have been triggered, or feel like we need to say something, it can be done in a way that is effective and kind.
When we stop pushing ourselves beyond our limitations on the mat, it teaches us how to step back in the moments that can push us into the fight or flight response, which can result in us saying or doing things that are harmful and not aligned with who we are or how we deeply feel.
When we learn how to bring our attention inward and away from blame by using the breath as an anchor, we carve out a new pattern that teaches us how to take responsibility for our own feelings. When this happens we are able to speak about them truthfully, gracefully (it takes practice guys!) and in a way that creates depth, meaning and trust in every relationship.
Often on this path towards embodying Satya we need to take a lot of time out. We need to create space. When we feel triggered we can choose to pause to take a breath. Then we can come back to the conversation later when we have reconnected to ourselves and been able to observe our feelings, process them, and talk about them kindly (Ahimsa) and harmoniously. There is nothing wrong with stepping back from the heat so we can take a breath, a walk, a moment. In fact, it takes courage, guts and will undoubtedly, definitely change your life.
Satya is more about restraint than action. In those moments where we feel like lashing out and are desperately needing to be heard, we learn how to step back. We slow down, filter our words, process them and choose them, whilst embodying Ahimsa. Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutras, from where the Eight Limbs of Yoga originated, says that “Words cannot reflect truth, unless they flow from the spirit of non-violence.”