While many people are familiar with asanas or yoga postures, the practice of yoga is a lot more than just flexible movements and elegant poses. When the sage and celebrated yogi Patanjali wrote the yoga sutras over 1,000 years ago, he documented the eight interwoven realms of Ashtanga, or classical yoga.
What are yamas? Defined as ethical practices and moral discipline, yamas are an important branch of the eight limbs of yoga. Whether you are familiar with these ancient practices or are simply searching for some yoga inspiration, here are a few small ways to practice satya, or truth, this month.
The Five Yamas, or Ethical Practices of Yoga
Before practicing satya you should know a little bit about each of the five yamas in yoga. The ethical practices and behaviors documented in Patanjali’s ancient text are:
- Asteya: non-stealing
- Satya: truth
- Brahmacharya: moderation, often interpreted as celibacy or maintenance of vitality
- Aparigraha: avoidance of greed and non-possessiveness
- Ahimsa: non-harming and nonviolence
Small Ways to Incorporate Satya, or Truth, Into Your Daily Life
“Truth is the same always. Whoever ponders it will get the same answer. Buddha got it. Patanjali got it. Jesus got it. Mohammed got it. The answer is the same, but the method of working it out may vary this way or that. (115)” ― Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras
In Sanskrit, the word “sat” means “that which exists, that which is.” This definition speaks to the trustest meaning of the word: the truth is that which is, and that which exists in front of us every day. The truth is not what we want to happen, or what we think others want us to hear, it is simply that which is.
While this philosophy is over a thousand years old, it is still applicable in many aspects of present-day life. Whether you are hoping to set realistic expectations in your workplace or are trying to be true to yourself about your goals and hopes, here are some small ways to practice satya this month:
“If we only look within, we will see the light as if we were seeing our own image in a mirror. (122)” ― Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras
Satya starts with you; if you cannot be honest with yourself, you will have more difficulty being honest with others. Practicing the second of the five yamas in your day-to-day life can be as simple as telling yourself you will go to the gym and then actually going, or as complex as reevaluating your career path and goals. Start with some of these simple steps to live your truth on a personal level:
- Be Mindful About Your Own Truth: Awareness is often the first step to change. You might not realize that you are being untruthful to yourself in your inner dialogue if you have not taken the time to think about it. Taking some time to consider if you are being honest with yourself can be the first step to living your truth.
- Set Personal Goals, Then Follow Through: Do you tell yourself at least once per year that you are going to eat less meat or exercise more often without actually following through? If you are the type of person who has big dreams but does not hold yourself accountable, there are many ways to shift your tendencies and take concrete steps in the direction of your goals.
- Be True to Yourself: If you are tired of working long days in a job that you do not enjoy, it may be time to consider a change. If you are searching for more meaning in your life, start your truth-finding journey by asking yourself where you would rather be and what you would rather be doing. Honest answers can help you shape a more truthful and fulfilling life trajectory.
At Your Workplace:
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.” ― William Faulkner
Communicating openly and honestly at your workplace is an easy way to practice satya in your daily life. Try some of the following:
- Set Realistic Expectations: If you know there is no way you will be able to finish everything on your to do list for the day, be honest with yourself about how to reallocate your workload rather than adding more hours to the day. Communicate clearly with clients and team members as to when things will be completed to avoid confusion and frustration down the road. Having clear and realistic expectations is an easy way to foster truth, and can also be beneficial to your company.
- Be Forthright With Your Capacity to Take on More: Whether you are an up and coming professional or a veteran in a large company, many have the tendency to never say no to a new project. If you are already working long work-days with little time for anything else, consider saying no when someone asks if you have time to take on an extra project. You may also try reallocating hours, handing off projects to other teammates, and giving someone else the chance to step up to the plate.
- Foster Communication Among Your Team: Communication can make or break a company. There are many ways to foster open and honest communication in a workplace, in hopes of better results for everyone. This may mean more-directly encouraging your employees to speak up and voice their opinion about projects at work. Another strategy may be to find productive ways to make constructive criticism that truthfully address issues without demotivating your team members.
“I find the best way to love someone is not to change them, but instead, help them reveal the greatest version of themselves.” ― Steve Maraboli
With friends, family members, and others with whom you have relationships in your life, open and honest communication is one of the best ways to find truth in a relationship. Simple ways to practice satya in relationships include:
- Avoid Excuses: Share the truth in things as simple as making plans and small daily tasks. If you truly do not want to go out to dinner or to a party, say so rather than making excuses.
- Speak Your Mind: Communicate your true desires when it comes to both big life decisions and small events. Rather than saying what you are hoping will happen or agreeing with the majority, speak up about what you honestly.
- Share Your Love: Implementing satya in your life can also mean voicing truths you do not always share. Telling your friends and loved ones how much they mean to you is a simple and rewarding way to share your truth.
At The Yoga Warrior, we believe in practicing all aspects of yoga to build healthier and more fulfilling lifestyles. To learn more about implementing holistic yoga practices in your daily life, check out Alo Moves‘ From Fear to Love Meditations series with Aubry Marie.