The Eight Limbs of Yoga by Kristen Keaney

The 8 Limbs of Yoga: The Yamas, Part 2

Last month we discussed the first Yama in yoga, Ahimsa, or non-violence. Hopefully you’ve found a way to introduce elements of it into your daily habits. This month we’ll discuss Satya, or truthfulness. 

Satya means so much more than simply not telling lies. The Yamas are meant to help us build better relationships with the people and the world around us. Yet, more importantly, they’re meant to help us build better relationships with ourselves. I would say the most difficult part of implementing Satya into our own lives is actually looking closely enough to realize if we are letting our constantly changing thoughts and emotions determine how we identify with ourselves. 

“I am not good for this position because of….” or “I don’t think I can succeed because of….”

It’s very easy to not see the truth or reality in life’s situations when we are either observing them from different emotional states or worse, if we’re choosing not to truly see the truth of a situation because it’s not the outcome we were hoping for. 

It’s important to slow down long enough for our minds to react to a situation from a more pragmatic state and not a purely emotional state. It’s tricky at first, and harder some days than others, but you eventually begin to realize that “you are not your thoughts” and that realization can be liberating. 

The best way to slow down your thoughts is to practice Yoga! When we focus our attention on our breathing we create an opportunity to slow down the fluctuations of the mind and approach our practice from a place of truth. You can implement Satya in your own practice by being truthful with your body’s limitations and your breath will be your best teacher. When your breath gets rushed or shallow, it’s an opportunity for you to see your limits and to work with them. 

Introducing and improving Satya to your personal relationships can help you build stronger foundations. Whether it be a romantic relationship, relationships with friends or family, or even co-workers and acquaintances it’s important to not only be truthful but also compassionate. A big element of Satya is also discernment; understanding what aspect of truth should be expressed and when to express it. Sometimes honesty calls for us to remain silent. It’s important to slow down and observe our motives before we speak. 

A very good question to ask yourself before you speak is “will this truth serve this person? Or am I saying this to prove my point or to gain something from it? Is my ego getting in front of the situation?”

Yoga teaches us to slow down our erratic thought processes and gives us the space to approach situations in our lives from a more honest and rational state of mind. Life is always going to be full of challenges and setbacks, it’s how we choose to react to these circumstances that determines the outcomes.  

Adding elements of Ahimsa (non-harming) and Satya (truthfulness) to your everyday life is great foundation to your journey through Yoga. 

Next month we’ll discuss Asteya (non-stealing), the 3rd moral restraint of the Yamas.