Embrace Your True Self: Finding Satya On and Off the Mat

Sh*t Your Yoga Teacher Says: “Take the version of the pose that you know you need today.” 

Satya (Truthfulness), the second of the five yamas (the quality of intelligence that governs a higher state of consciousness) described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s. The word Satya derives from the Sanskrit word ‘sat’ meaning ‘the true essence’ or ‘true nature’, it can be described as “that which exists, that which is.”

Many of us have a vision of what we want our life to look like, or maybe it’s a goal we are working towards. I don’t know about you, but sometimes that goal is REALLY BIG or maybe that vision is really clear, but I don’t know how to get from right now to WAYYYYYYY over there.  

We (meaning me and probably you) tend to get lost in the perfection of how that vision or goal looks and alllllllll the steps it takes to get there. In reality, we only need to worry about the next step, not the next 4 or 6 or even 6 years. Right now is what matters. 

The practice of Satya (Truthfulness) is part of the yamas described in the Yoga Sutras. You can take it literally by giving it meaning that you need to be honest with others, not lie, etc… or when it comes to what you need, you need to be honest with yourself, or better yet an advocate. 

To be an advocate for yourself you need a few things. You’ll need to be able to speak up, identify your goals, know your strengths and needs, know your rights or responsibilities, and communicate. The biggest part about being an advocate for myself is being courageous, capable, and strong - see what I did there!?!?! 

So what does all of this actually mean? I’ll give you a recent example….

Since I’ve been an entrepreneur (but honestly my whole life) I’ve been advocating for myself. That might look like speaking up, taking charge, and making decisions. Part of my summer graduate school program is through an “Independent Study,” basically I’m in charge of myself. My professors and I wrote my syllabus, I have certain things I’ve agreed to do and turn in. Also, what’s part of my summer program through the Independent study is working with a mentor. 

I have a goal in mind of what I need and what I want to do. I also had to be honest with myself and my professors about what I was truly capable of doing this summer semester with my time, and with my workload. I wanted to make sure that I was still challenging myself, all while not making this a total walk in the park. 

I met with my mentor and realized that the mentor didn’t align with my vision of what I had seen. I thought and thought and thought and did full mental gymnastics to figure out a way to “make it work.” There was no making it work though, and luckily I quickly realized that I needed to speak up. 

So, what did I do?

I knew I needed to do one thing, ask my professor to switch mentors. Here’s the problem that me (and maybe you) face, by doing that we have this feeling like we are putting them out, they have to do extra things that they weren’t supposed to be doing, we feel like a burden. And then the “What if” questions start. But seriously, what if they didn’t switch me? 

By not switching me, that was the worst that could happen. I was already there, so sending them a quick email that was short, polite, and directly spoke to my needs was the only thing I needed to do. I didn’t need to worry about anything else until I heard back….which I did. 

Of course, they said YES. Duh, how could you honestly think this story would end differently….

Here’s the thing, it’s that easy, it’s asking the question. It’s taking that small step, it’s speaking up when it’s a little uncomfortable. Making my professor reach into her Rolodex (omg how old am I for saying that, what am I supposed to say “contacts??!!”) it probably didn’t honestly take up much of her time, because it was most likely a quick email or phone call for her too. Again, it was probably a simple question that she had to ask but was full of the same feelings I had. 

For me, this is the part of yoga I love. It’s about living the practice in our real lives. 

Satya, to me, is so much more than being honest. It’s about being honest with ourselves about what we need, and what needs to be done. Reminder: I wrote a whole blog post on “self-care is speaking up” a long time ago, and I agree with everything I wrote. Being authentic and honest standing up for what you need and being in your truth doesn’t mean you get to take others down in the process. Take it from me, I learned the hard way….

If you’re interested in learning more about yoga philosophy off the mat, one of the books we use for our YTT program is Living The Sutras

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