On the topic of truth many things come to my mind. Telling the truth, the truth hurts, you can’t hide from the truth; but in relation to yoga, I think of Satya. Satya is a Sanskrit word that translates loosely as “truth” in English and is one of the yamas in Patanjali’s Eight-Limb Path, also known as the ethical principles set forth in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
I often hear that most people start doing yoga for the workout, but keep going for the spiritual and emotional benefits they receive from the practice. Not so for me. I started doing yoga in search of Satya. I have always been a gym girl, but 5 years ago I was going through some major changes in my life and I felt somewhat lost. When I needed it most, out of nowhere, there was an opportunity to do 7 days for $7 at one of the few yoga studios in RI where I lived at the time. The yoga studio was a 35-40 minute trek from my house, but it didn’t stop me from going 4 or 5 times that week (in the interest of truth I am estimating how many times I went because I can’t remember exactly how many classes I attended). From the first time I stepped onto the mat, I was hooked. I felt like I had come home. I swear I had an out of body experience during my first Kundalini yoga class. At the end of a Kundalini yoga class, rather than chanting “Om” the teacher led us in 3 rounds of the chant “Sat Nam” which she translated as “truth is my identity”. I loved that phrase, and Sat Nam became my own personal mantra.
I try my best to practice Satya in all areas of my life, but lately I have been catching myself in lies-to myself. I hold myself to a high standard of always telling the truth, I have even been told that I am too honest, but somehow I keep catching myself lying to myself. Wtf?! I will make allowances, justifications, and tell down right lies to myself about the silliest things and sometimes even the big things. Last week I caught myself in a lie when I told myself that I was on the 20th rep of my squats when in fact, it had only been 18. I had to laugh to myself, and say aloud “you can’t lie to yourself, keep going!”. It was then that the awareness came of how often I will make justifications for things to myself, who am I kidding anyway? You can’t lie to yourself and the truth is, you can’t hide from the truth. Well you can, but not for too long.
In a class I took recently the teacher made the topic “stepping into your truth”, ironically it was the same week I called myself out for trying to slack on my workout. As the class progressed, she talked about the elephant in the room that you ignore. I tried and tried to figure out what the elephant was in my room that I wasn’t facing, but couldn’t. There I was lying to myself again. I knew what my elephant was, but I simply did not want to face it. I believed that because I was being so honest with others that I was indeed practicing Satya. But truth doesn’t just lie within my dealings with others. Satya is also being truthful with myself.
Today I did not try to skimp on my reps at the gym, I faced and spoke my truth even though it was uncomfortable, and I didn’t even lie to myself about the calories in the vegan gelato I got from the farmer’s market. That’s right, Sat Nam!
Man, I love yoga and the lessons I learn from the practice of it.