Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras outline 5 Yamas or moral/ethical principles that guide the yogis relationships to others and the outside world. The second yama is satya or truth.
The path of truth begins within. Who are you, really? You gotta know your roots before you can blossom into that beautiful lotus.
Start by finding truth in the physical body; learning its capabilities and limitations. Be honest about what you can or cannot do…today, yet. Each day is different! Keep in mind, “achieving” postures is not at the heart of the yoga practice. The tradition teaches that the body opens and deeper postures come only when you “give up” or “let go” of trying to achieve. Scan the body, noticing where the energy flows fluidly and where there may be blockages. What parts of the body feel good and are there areas that feel a little tense? Honor where you are at any given moment, physically. Being aware of your truth, physically, equals safe yoga practice and being more comfortable in your body off the mat in your daily life.
Next, move deeper into the mental/emotional body. What are the thoughts that spin on the “hamster” wheels in your head? These tracks of thought, often negative or self-defeating, are ruts that are holding us back. The good news is that the true Self is NOT the body nor the mind, and the beautiful thing about realizing this is that you learn you actually DO have control over those hamsters on the wheel. You can slow them down or throw them off the track! Slow the mind down and you instead begin to listen to the loving, peaceful sound of your breath. Is their truth about your past that you need to acknowledge and stop hiding from? Yogis live in the present moment, BUT it is hard to know who you are NOW without looking at your past, if only to see how it shaped your beliefs and being today. Sit with those memories or experiences, and if they are painful, be done with them. Remember pain will come and go, but suffering is optional. And are there ways of being (like gossiping or criticizing or complaining) that you discover you repeat, without even realizing it? Awareness brings action. You CAN handle the truth!
Once we have uncovered or reexamined our physical and mental truth, we are ready to project truth 24/7 into the world. No more little white lies, no more fooling yourself, no more dishonesty in who we are. Patanjali has something very amazing to say about 24/7 truth. Sutra 2.36: Satya pratisthayam kriya phala ashrayatvam = to one established in truthfulness, actions and their results become subservient. In other words, if you can get to the point where your entire being exudes only honesty and truth, each and every thought in your head and word out of your mouth will come true!! Powerful stuff.
By the establishment of truthfulness, Yogis get the power to attain for themselves and others the fruits of work without doing the work…things come to them automatically. All nature loves an honest person…The more we lead a life of honesty, the more we will see results, and that will encourage us to be more honest.
With establishment of honesty, the state of fearlessness comes…when the mind becomes clear and serene, the true Self reflects without disfigurement, and we realize the Truth in its own original nature.
So, first follow truth, and then truth will follow you.
Sutra commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda
Honesty is a powerful and sometimes challenging practice. The next time you choose to communicate truthfully with a coworker or family member, know that you are practicing yoga. We don’t have to be on our mats to be doing yoga. Yoga is everywhere and in every interaction, all the time.