Sunday, April 06, 2008

Satya - Bringing Truth to the Mat.

Satya or the second yama arises out of ahimsa. It is a continuation of the foundational practice of non-harming, as it is the application of truth in our lives. It not only refers to being truthful with others, but it also includes the awareness of being truthful with ourselves, and this means meeting ourselves each day on the mat as we are, as we practice.

We had a new student came to our Mysore class this week to begin learning the wonderful practice of Ashtanga Yoga. His wife practices with us, and so he was familiar with the practice and brought with him many pre-conceived ideas, expectations, and concerns about what a yoga practice should look like, and how long it needed to be. He was worried that he wouldn’t be able to keep up with the other students, and that he had to do it for over an hour every day. I think he was pleasantly surprised to find out that this practice "truthfully" can fit into his busy schedule and that it doesn’t have to be a long and laborious activity, and that when practiced with awareness it could add value to his life.

This brings up a few questions though: Are there times when the practice truthfully doesn't fit for us? Are there times when the practice is too much for our day-to-day schedule? Can we approach the demands of life, and the demands on our time in a truthful way and still make the effort to find the middle path between laziness and egoistic ambition? I believe we can.

Finding this middle ground is vital for us. Our yoga practice should be
something that creates more balance in our lives not further imbalance. We must find ways to integrate our practice into our daily living without increasing the stress we already have. Only in this way will the practice be maintained over the long term, and can we hope to find the true benefits of a yoga practice. Patanjali says: "Sa tu dirghakala nairantarya satkarasevito drdhabhumih" – which means: “Only after a long time of continuous practice with sincerity will the benefits of yoga be achieved.”

This then must be our aim. To be truthful with ourselves and our capacity each day not only when starting and integrating yoga into our lives, but also when sustaining the practices we have already established, and in doing so we will gain all he benefits that come from a daily practice of Ashtanga Yoga.