Finding truth on the yoga mat

In our look at the yamas and niyamas, the second yama or moral ‘restraint’ is satya, or truth. This might simply be acknowledging our limitations in a particular pose, and not going beyond them (whilst bearing in mind the principle of ahimsa or non-harming). However, we can use this ethical principle to find a more real, authentic and honest self on our yoga mats.

satya blog

The purpose of yoga is to still the fluctuations of the mind, and once we have done this, we are more able to see the true nature of reality, to see things as they really are. This means being aware of our preferences, our ‘shoulds’ and judgements.

If we notice a ‘should’ arise during the practice, simply noticing that, and being curious as to what is behind that. This is not an opportunity to berate ourselves or others, but just to notice our responses. We can use the practice of yoga postures to get a good look at ourselves – not our physical body, but our habits and states of mind.

We can observe the truth in our practice by observing the breath. Is the breath strained and shallow, or is it spacious and relaxed? This tells us when we are working with ‘steadiness and ease’ (sthira and sukha), or whether we have gone beyond it in to the realm of harming ourselves. Can we find our edge in a physical posture, can we be honest with ourselves?

We can also use kali mudra in the practice. Named after the fierce goddess Durga, this hand posture represents the empowerment that enables us to stand in our truth. The outstretched index fingers represent Durga’s sword which cuts through delusion.

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