We started this year revisiting the eight limbs of yoga as described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. I remind you again that if you remember one sutra, it should be sutra 1.2, as it incapsulates the meaning of yoga. Translated from Sanskrit it says “The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga”. Simply put, if we learn to control our mind (through meditation, breath, asanas, contemplation) we will achieve the goal of yoga. Last blog discussed the first limb, Yamas which are further broken down into 5 moral code guidelines. The first is ahimsa which is loosely translated as non-harming or non-violence, and this week we discuss Satya, truthfulness
Satya – Truthfulness
The second of the yamas is truthfulness. You might think, well that is easy, I'm no Pinocchio, I don’t lie. 🤣😂
Truthfulness is taught to young children by parents, teachers and religious leaders. Not only is it about being truthful with your word, but I think about it in terms of being truthful to yourself, your principles and perhaps following a greater “truth”-whatever that might mean to you. The word truth, however, can also be subject to interpretation and thus can cause conflict, the opposite of the intent.
I fear that politicians, religious zealots and people in general hide behind their “truths”. We can go down rabbit holes about what is truth versus fact (very different because truth can be subject to one’s personal belief system) but in the context of the yamas, I believe the intent is clear. Sutra 11.36 says that when satya is well rooted, actions and the fruits of those actions are aligned. In order to be truthful (or honest) with our word or action, we should be clear about the situation and what is motivating us to be truthful.
Another way to think about aligning actions and fruits of the action when practicing satya, is to practice truthfulness with compassion. Before saying something ask yourself, (1) is it true?, (2) is it necessary?, (3) is it kind? Honestly, if I practiced this (especially at home), I would reduce my speaking aloud for sure. I am working on it.
For a bit more on Satya see the following links, thirst from ekart yoga and one that I posted previously by the yoga sanctuary which I loved for its straightforward simplicity:
Meditation - On Trutfulness
“Truth never damages a cause that is just.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“Try to remain truthful. The power of truth never declines. Force and violence may be effective in the short term, but in the long run it’s truth that prevails.” – Dalai Lama
Our Practice – Crescent Warrior with Kali Mudra
While I am visiting the yamas again and am adding new thoughts to my prior writing on them, I could not neglect to include the article and short practice video made by my friend and my yoga teacher trainer, Coral Brown that I shared last time.
In the article, she discusses Satya, related yoga poses and a short practice to embody it. One of the poses she mentions is Crescent Warrior incorporating Kali Mudra. This mudra (hand posture) is named after my favorite goddess, Durga. The mudra represents her sword which slays illusions. She is 8 limbed and has a different weapon in each hand, each to wage war on bad stuff. I have a small statue of her in my studio and am constantly channeling her. As I have said before, you have not experienced yoga fully until you have attended a class with Coral as she tells the tale of Durga while you practice). The link to her article and practice video is below.
We are going to focus on a crescent warrior pose version in class this week as we discuss Satya.
Crescent Warrior with Kali Mudra
In class we talk about the difference between crescent warrior and warrior 1. In warrior 1, we can feel awkward (or experience pain) as we press our back foot down while simultaneously trying to push that same hip forward – may hear yoga teachers say point your hips as if they are head lights pointing forward. This can be uncomfortable, and injurious to our lower back especially if we do not appropriately modify.
Come to crescent warrior and interlace your fingers except the index fingers which point upward representing the sword of Durga. While in crescent warrior, inhale raising arms overhead visualizing your sword cutting through dishonesty toward yourself or others.
Right foot top of mat
Bend right knee, stacking it over right ankle
Step left foot back on mat, feet hip width apart (remember the train track analogy for steadiness), heel stacked over toes (heel is raised you are on ball of foot.
Hips are facing forward, lift your arms overhead relaxing your shoulders, pulling your belly up and in.
Here is the link to Coral’s article and video.
Nurturing with Food – Homemade Chai
I am a chai snob. When I first tried what is called chai in most coffee shops, I found it sickly sweet and bearing no resemblance to tea, which it is supposed to be. Once I learned what chai really was, I was surprised that coffee shops that pride themselves on brewing the perfect cup of coffee (cold brew, nitro brew, arabica beans – all terms that have come about since I gave up coffee about 10 years ago) could not be bothered to make real chai. Masala chai is a traditional Indian drink which mixes a black tea blend with spices and milk. What I drank in little cups in India either on the streets or in a restaurant had no resemblance to western “chai”. My recipe, which I have shared before, while not exactly like what I found in India, it is much closer to the real thing. Especially if you sweeten it. My version makes a concentrate (versus brewing a batch at a time to be consumed at once) and can be kept in the refrigerator until you have a craving. Once change I made since developing this recipe is, time permitting, to roast the spices in a cast iron skillet till fragrant before adding to the water. Hope you enjoy it. Nothing like cozying up on the couch in winter with a good book and a cup of (good) chai. 😊
See you on the mat!