The Truth, Why We Lie, and Our Yoga Practice

Angela Kukhahn adjusting Aiden in Paschimottanasana We lie to ourselves for the same reasons we lie to others.

Fear.

We are fearful that we are not good enough just the way we are.

We lie because we are uncomfortable with what “is”.

The person next to us in class is doing a huge backbend so we push ourselves into it ignoring the truth that our body is not ready.

We let fear feed us lies that tell us we are not “enough,” “good,” or “worthy,” we must try harder, and push more.

Last year I experienced a setback/blessing in my practice, depending upon the way you look at it.

Having a couple of ribs dislocate certainly gave me time to think about how truthful I was being in my practice. I was forced to acknowledge that there had been warning signs along the way that I had chose to ignore.

Fearing separation from my beloved practice I ignored that nagging pain in my shoulder, and denied that I needed to back it off and rest. The truth usually does find a way to be told, and in my case it was in the form of my first and second rib popping out of place.

We must continue exploring our practice from moment to moment. Of course it’s healthy to expand your practice and work at your edge, but Satya (truthfulness) is the conversation that you have with yourself along the way.

Each movement is an exploration into the truth “Is this healing and creating more space in my body? Am I best serving my needs in this posture?”

For those of us injured the question is what habits need to be addressed that caused this in the first place? What patterns of misuse could I be enforcing if I am not practicing with proper awareness and the right intention?

We must seek in our yoga practice ahimsa (non harming) and Satya (truthfulness).

We should regularly ask ourselves where are we creating compression?

or were can we make more space, and create more freedom?

On days we are exhausted not forcing ourselves to complete every vinyasa is an example of living in truth. (this is tough for some of us..)

On the other side of that coin, when you find yourself making excuses of why you can’t/won’t/don’t do certain poses, you may need to be more truthful with yourself as well.

Alot of things can come up during a yoga practice, fear, not wanting to be challenged, inability to accept change, fear of embarrassment, being self- conscious of how we may look in a pose, judging in advance how good we will be at a given asana, believing that others are judging us for how we practice, and sometimes accepting defeat before we even try.

These too need examining and stand as roadblocks to living in the fullness of Satya.

What is coming up for you on the mat?

Fear?

Complacency?

Anger?

Mr. Iyengar refers to yoga as an “involution” in his book “Light on Life”. On truth he states “The presence of truth can make us feel naked, but compassion takes all our shame away. It is this inner quest for growth and evolution, or “involution” that is the profound and transformational yogic journey that awaits the seeker of truth.” Oftentimes the attitudes, beliefs, and challenges we experience on our mats are a reflection of things we need to work through in everyday life. The practice provides a mirror in which we can often see things more clearly.

Our bodies need different things from day to day, and our practice should be an expression of that truth. Real yoga is what happens in the absence of illusion. If you think that forcing your body into a pose that is unhealthy for you is somehow going to “advance” your practice for instance, you are living in an illusion and it will ultimately bring you suffering. If however you are avoiding a pose because it challenges you, and think that is helpful to your growth that also is an illusion. Real yoga is experienced when you banish feelings of inadequacy, and fear and do what is right for your body. This is yoga, this is Satya, breaking old patterns of fear, destroying illusion, and living in freedom. The truth shall set you free!

Satya: The Importance of Truth

person with fingers crossed behind back (not telling the truth)Satya is the second Yama or moral observance according to yogic wisdom. A yogi is advised to speak, act, and live in a way that honors the truth.

When we live in truth, we begin to harmonize with the world around us. It may be difficult at first to free yourself from the web of half truths, lies, and deceptions that hold you captive, but the sweetness that awaits you is worth every effort. When you begin to really manifest truth in your life, then you can connect with your intuition, your (atman) true self, and ultimately your destiny. When we lie, we not only dishonor ourselves, we show a lack of respect for others as well. Telling the truth leaves our mind peaceful knowing there is nothing we need to remember, or tracks that need covering up. No fabrications that need to be spun or elaborations that need to be thought out. Ah, peace sweet sweet peace.

Does Satya mean we must tell the next friend who asks us if they look “fat “the harsh reality that they could afford to skip a meal? No not exactly. Speaking the truth in a way that hurts others is not Satya either because it is not in accordance with the first observance ahimsa (non harming or non-violence in thought, action and deed). We do not wield Satya as a weapon with which to shame others. If truth is a sword than it is one that has two sharp edges, watch out!

In his book, “The Four Agreements” Don Miguel Ruiz teaches a powerful code of conduct that when followed leads to a life lived in freedom and happiness. The first agreement that he suggests we make with ourselves is being impeccable with our word. It may be the most important and difficult agreement to follow. Ruiz writes, “The word is the most powerful tool you have as a human; it is the tool of magic. But like a sword with two edges, your word can create the most beautiful dream, or your word can destroy everything around you. One edge is the misuse of the word, which creates a living hell. The other edge is the impeccability of the word, which will only create beauty, love, and heaven on earth. Depending upon how it is used, the word can set you free, or it can enslave you even more than you know.”

I think the answer then when dealing with others goes back to intention. When you speak the truth with kindness and good will in your heart it will shine through even when the truth may be uncomfortable. In the end the truth is a gift you give to others, and however difficult at times it will be appreciated more often than not.