Friday, April 13, 2012

Satya: Finding Your Truth

Satya: Finding a your Truth

In my last blog entry, I talked about Ahimsa, or non-violence. This is one of the yoga principles that I use in a yoga class that I teach called Soft Flow. This week, I'd like to talk about another yoga principle called Satya. It means Truthfulness.

Satya is the second Yama. The Yamas, as described in Patanjamli's Yoga Sutras, are "the guidelines for how we interact with the outer world, the social disciplines to guide us in our relationships with others." Patanjali goes on to describe truthfulness as "to be in harmony with mind, word and action, to conduct speech and mind according to truth, to express through speech and to retain it in the intellect what has been seen, understood or heard." He proclaims that it is important that truth is expressed toward self as well as toward others. Truth is practiced in what we think, say, and do. They should all coincide with one another.

I have added another interpretation to this definition. Not only is it important to be honest and truthful in these facets, as Patanjali states. I think that it is also important to express your truest self: to be who you really are and to express it in thought, mind, and action. We cannot fully develop and be our most authentic self if we are trying to be something or someone else. If we are always wearing masks or pretending to be something that we are not, we are not expressing our truth: we are not being honest with ourselves. We can use the yoga practice and this yoga principle to help guide us toward that Inner Truth.

I use this Yama in another yoga class that I teach called Hot Vinyasa. In a yoga studio that is just over 100 degrees, I ask my students to seek their truth; to explore and discover who they really are, then learn to express it. The vinyasa takes us through a themed-oriented class that challenges us to explore, for example, Opening Our Hearts, Creating A Strong Foundation, Creating Balance, Cleansing & Healing, Supporting Yourself, just to name a few.

Although the Hot Vinyasa is a 1-hour flowing class, one can practice and experience Satya anytime....anywhere. Even in stillness, one can discover the authentic Self. I believe that is one of the best way to discover your Truth: in quiet stillness. We are constantly bombarded by distractions, noise, obligations, responsibilities, etc. It can be a challenge to find time to really work on ourselves when we are being drawn to other things that need our attention. If you can take a few minutes, which is one of the intentions of this blog, to sit in quiet stillness, you can begin that process of exploring, finding, living, and experiencing YOUR TRUTH.

Take a moment now, and sit on your yoga mat (or even a comfortable chair.) Be sure that there is no one else around, your phone is off, the television is off, and there are NO other distractions. Set aside THREE minutes! Yes, just three minutes (set a timer if you have to.) Just sit with breath. You really don't have to think about anything. You don't have to do anything. It's just an opportunity for your body and mind to rest, to come to ease and silence. This is a good beginning to finding Satya because THIS IS your true nature: to be in stillness WITH SELF in order to SEE SELF.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Be Kind & Gentle to Yourself

Be Kind & Gentle to Yourself

I teach a class called Soft Flow at my local yoga studio. It's one of my favorite classes to teach because it gives me a break (as well as the students) from the "hardcore" nature of Power Vinyasa Yoga. The intention of my Soft Flow class is to move slowly with intention through each pose. To be mindful of your body, mind, and spirit. To take the time to notice sensations in your body. To move with gentleness, kindness, and love.

The idea comes from the Yamas and Niyamas which are yoga's ten ethical guidelines that make up the first two limbs of the Yoga's eight-limb path. These principles help you to take ownership of your life and direct it towards the fulfillment that you seek for yourself. The Yamas, as described in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras are "the guidelines for how we interact with the outer world, the social disciplines to guide us in our relationships with others." He further states that these "great universal vows....are not limited by either class, creed, time, or circumstance."

When I teach Soft Flow, the yoga principle in mind is the first Yama which is called Ahimsa which means non-violence. I also like to define that as being gentle, kind, and loving to yourself and others. Ahimsa is the awareness and practice of non-violence in thought, speech, and action. It advocates the practices of compassion, love, understanding, patience, self-love, and worthiness. I consider these deep and important aspects of our relationships with ourselves and others. So, in the Soft Flow practice, we move slowly yet deeply into poses to understand and experience sensation. We move slowly to find that depth without pushing or forcing our bodies into yoga postures. The intention is to move with kindness and gentleness to experience that depth of feeling. When we practice that kindness toward ourselves, we then can practice that same love and appreciation toward others. Moving this slowly, also, allows us to pay attention to ourselves more carefully. We can be more fully aware of how we move and think, how we treat ourselves, how we manage life circumstances when things get challenging. The practice teaches us to slow down in general. To be more mindful of the breath and how it supports us and guides us. The breath helps us to move and to be still. We do a lot of moving, so the Soft Flow practice reminds us to slow down, to relax, to stop.

So, for your home practice, I invite you to choose a pose or short yoga sequence and move through it very slowly. Pay close attention to your breath and how you feel in the pose. If it is a pose that allows you to move deeper into it (e.g. Triangle Pose, Wheel Pose, Side Angle Pose, etc.) start with a modified version of the posture then over time and several breaths move deeper into the posture. Be mindful that you can take your time to move into your own personal depth. Listen to your breath and listen to your body. With each exhale, imagine that you are creating space within your body. As you open up, perhaps accept the invitation to move into that new space. If space does not open, then do not force your body into the pose. Simply stay where you are and breathe. Accept the moment. Be in the moment. By listening and staying in tuned in this way, you are treating yourself with kindness and love: Ahimsa.