Let's Be Honest - Practicing Satya

We are connected to everything, always.

Our thoughts become the words we speak and actions that we take. Our bodies move when we will them to, and sometimes they move by the power of suggestion, or habit. Our actions begin to affect others and we become even more connected to each other. Our families and our friends joining together to build a community. Those communities forming both in person and over the web. Some lift us up and some do more harm than they were intended to.

Because we are so connected, everything we do matters. The words that we speak to each other and ourselves are going to enact change in our communities.

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(A picture of me, edited. How soft and pretty and glowing!)

No matter where we are, alone or together, we are connected. Either by the screens on our phones and laptops or by our thoughts of others near and far, breathing at the same time they breathe. We are connected by our life, our breath and our intention to stay in the world for whatever reason we have, large or small. Our intention is to live and participate in this world in our own way.  

So why do we spend so much time lying, even with the tiny white lies, to ourselves and others? We put online only the “better looking” photos of ourselves, only posting about the “good” times and ignoring the routine or disappointing.  Dictated by someone’s version of how a “fulfilling” life looks. When our peers and boss ask us how we feel, we simply respond “fine” without taking the time to even notice how we are actually doing that day. Moving through life in person and online we struggle to discern the factual information from the skewed and blatantly manufactured. We are more focused about how it looks from the outside to someone else than how it feels or how it’s honest to ourselves.

We have moved so far from the truth that sometimes we can’t even recognize it staring us in the face. The truth has started to resort to over the top drama for our attention. Like in those gut wrenching feelings, twisting our insides and pulling at our heart, trying to tell us that something is wrong, desperate for us to notice. Or in intense mood swings from fear, rage, anxiety, depression and panic, letting us know that something is happening that we need to pay attention to. It’s that sinking feeling in your heart, making you feel alone because you aren’t expressing yourself fully. And sometimes it makes us act really small so that we shut ourselves off entirely from connecting to our community, afraid of what they would think of our truth.

We have spent so much time acting in this way and reading so many conflicting articles about what is “true”, that it can feel impossible to discern what it is that is the truth. So where do we start? How do we start?

One of the Yamas, a part of the Yoga code of ethics that teaches us how to treat each other and ourselves, that we practice abiding by is Satya. Put in simple terms, it translates to truthfulness, honesty in all actions and thoughts.

For many of us, yoga is a physical practice that makes our bodies stronger, breath more even and mindful. But it’s also a practice (maybe even a metaphor, if you’re in to that sort of a thing) for our life. We use the mat as a safe place to experiment, create shapes and even fall. We know that no matter what happens during our yoga practice, we will rest in savasana, roll up our mat when we are done, and try again another day. The lessons we learn on the mat begin to spill over into our daily lives. We start to notice that bending down to grab something off the bottom shelf is easier. We may notice our posture begin to improve. We may notice that even if it’s for just a few minutes after class, we have more patience with our own mistakes and of others.

So we can start by practicing Satya on the mat. We can be honest with ourselves when we are pushing too hard to get deeper into a pose, or not challenging our edge enough. Just as we all create different shapes in the same posture, our truths will be unique. That balance between effort and ease (sukha and sthira) in a pose is going to affect my breathing and my body much differently than it will yours. Only you are able to make the determination of what is your truth, and only I am of able to determine mine.  

Practicing Satya will be difficult at first. It requires even more concentration and humility to notice if our ego is getting in the way, trying to push us harder and deeper into the pose. It requires us to stay even more present with the sensations that may become more intense as we challenge our edge further than we normally desire.  We begin to learn to accept where we are because we are practicing being honest about where we are.

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(A picture of me unedited. Still, how soft, pretty, glowing and honest.)

Soon you will notice that the truth becomes easier to recognize. You become kinder to yourself when you can’t go as deep into a pose or you catch yourself not as engaged as you could be. That kindness to yourself, born out of honesty, will become more familiar. It will follow you off the mat, into your daily life, just like the mobility yoga gifts us. As you are kinder to yourself, your actions become more good-natured. You begin to move your body in actions that spread the kindness to your friends, your family, your community. As that kindness spreads from you to them, it becomes more familiar to everyone.

We are connected to each other. Our thoughts become our actions. Our actions begin to influence other’s actions. We join together, staying connected in our communities, sharing that kindness.


With love,

Alexandra Ann

RYT-200 Yoga Teacher @ DDY Savannah