Practicing yoga goes far beyond strengthening poses and elegant postures; yoga is made up of 8 limbs including physical, mental, and spiritual practices. The yamas make up one of these 8 limbs, offering ethical and moral guides with which to live your life. Satya, the second of the 5 yamas, speaks to living truthfully. Here is an introduction to what satya means and a few ways to put it into practice on and off your yoga mat.

Practicing and Understanding Satya

Satya helps practitioners focus on truth and honesty. The word “satya” comes from “sat” in Sanskrit, meaning “that which is.” In the most basic sense, this idea helps yogis to accept things in their life for what they are, and be honest about the world around them. This can mean anything from being truthful about whether or not you will actually attend a yoga class you signed up for, to whether or not you are communicating truthfully with important people in your life.

Though this philosophy is thousands of years old, it is still highly applicable today. From how much you can take on at work to things that bother you in relationships, being honest with yourself and those around you can help you lead a happy and healthy life.

Practicing Satya On Your Mat

Yogis explore yamas in their asana practice and in their daily lives. Starting with a few simple exercises on your mat may help you hone his practice into other areas of your life. If you are interested in bringing this yama into your yoga practice, try some of the following.

  • Know your limits. Knowing and accepting limitations your body might have is a great way to start practicing satya on your yoga mat. While trying new poses and experimenting with shapes that challenge you can bolster your practice, it is important to be mindful of pushing yourself too hard. Start exploring this yama by being truthful with yourself in your practice about what your body is comfortable with. Focus on moving forward at the pace that feels right for you, rather than what those around you are doing.
  • Be honest about what you want out of your practice. People step onto a yoga mat for many different reasons. If you started the day with the intention of doing a fiery, power yoga sequence but feel tired and lethargic when you step onto your mat, acknowledge that. While sometimes an intense workout will help your body wake up, other times your body may be begging you for some rest. Being in tune with your body and accepting what you need is another simple way to bring this yama onto your mat.
  • Follow a schedule you can commit to. Being honest about yourself about how often you will practice, for how much time, and with how much intensity is another way you can bring this yama to your mat. Think about your schedule and how often you can realistically practice. Setting aside time you can devote to your practice, rather than telling yourself you will practice every single day and not holding yourself accountable, is another tangible way to bring satya into your practice.

Practicing Satya Off Your Mat

Accepting boundaries and being honest with yourself need not only happen on your yoga mat;  many of the ways to practice satya on your mat can carry over into your day to day life as well. Try some of the following ways to practice satya off your mat.

  • Set boundariesOne way to start practicing satya off the yoga mat is by being honest about what you can and cannot commit to. Saying no can be difficult, especially when you are hoping to please your friends, family, and coworkers. However, being honest about your ability to take on more can help you avoid stretching yourself too thin and make time for the things you really love to do. Explore some concrete ways to set boundaries in our post about harnessing the power of no.
  • Practice open and honest communication. Communicating openly and honestly can help you practice satya in every part of your life. Whether in your place of work, with your family, or in other important aspects of your life, being honest about what you are thinking and how you are feeling can help you be happier in the long run. Some simple ways to foster honest communication in your life include:

Voicing when something is bringing you down in a relationship rather than trying to ignore it

Saying “no” rather than “maybe” or “I will try to make it” if someone invites you to plans you do not wish to attend.

Listening actively. Think critically about the words you hear and be truthful in what you are hearing from others, rather than hearing what you want to hear.

Speaking up when you have ideas at work.

Encouraging others to communicate openly and honestly as well because communication is a two-way street.

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  • Be true to yourself. A final way to manifest truth in your life is to simply be true to yourself. This might mean anything from being realistic as to whether or not you will actually go to the gym when you say you will, to much larger ideas such as assessing whether or not you are really happy in your job. Taking some time to think about your values, goals, and intentions and what is truly important to you is a concrete way to practice satya.

Understanding and practicing the 5 yamas can help you add depth to your practice and even boost your well-being off the mat. To continue learning about the 5 yamas, explore our guides for practicing asteya and ahimsa!

Megan Herndon

Megan is a Seattle-based writer who covers health and wellness. She has worked in content marketing and journalism for a number of organizations including The Seattle Globalist, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and The Jakarta Globe. She has a BA in journalism from the University of Washington and is currently working on her second UW degree, a Master of Communication and Digital Media. Born and raised in Hawaii and currently embracing the Pacific Northwest lifestyle, Megan loves all things active and outdoors including hiking, camping, outrigger canoe paddling, and yoga.

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