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Truth and integrity: The Yoga of Satya

Dedicated to truth and integrity (Satya), our thoughts words and actions gain the power to manifest. Sutra 11.36

Sometimes being silent is the wisest action, even though silence can sometimes be seen as aggressive in our society. Your words are so powerful that often you do not realise the benefits or consequences they bestow on others and ourselves. Even though your actions appear to be pleasing, your thoughts behind your words may be something different.

The Yama of Satya

Before we consider the second Yama, Satya, it is important to keep the first Yama, Ahimsa (kindness and reverence for all), at the centre of your thoughts, words and actions. It is a continuous practice that is made real if we remember to embrace simplicity and kindness.

Honesty in all aspects of our lives is important on so many levels. There is a Sufi saying Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Lies create tension and fear of discovery, even unconsciously, and disturb the mind. So how do you access Satya, the truth?

Your heart contains the depth of your truth, and its power is created through:

Personal integrity



‘Most people will not remember what you said or what you did, but they will remember how they made you feel’ Maya Angeliou

As we learn to live in Satya, we step into a stream where all our experiences are invited to flow along in the same direction’ Nischala Jot Devi

Practising Satya allows you to feel supported by the many people who have suffered, shifted morality, created revolutions and breathed in the aliveness of truth.

Here is an inspirational extract from Martin Luther King from his then jail cell.

‘We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real promise of democracy. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity’

In some cases, it gets down to Satya versus Ahimsa. Imagine what you would do in these circumstances:

  • Should you have admitted to the Gestapo that you knew where the Jews were hiding?

  • Should you potentially ruin your friendship by admitting your friend’s new dress does not suit her etc?

Don’t lie even if the lie may sound pleasing to the ear, truth is eternal law’ Desikachar

Time to reflect

Please apply the SWAN principle (what are my strengths, weaknesses, attention and needs) and don’t judge yourself harshly!

  • Notice at any stage of your yoga posture practice whether you are pretending to do the pose because you think it should look a certain way, and pushing your joints into ignoring pain.

  • Can you remember the feeling of ‘truth’ or ‘untruth’ as an energy sensation in your body?

  • Are you aware of a time when your opinion has distorted the truth?

  • If you were in trouble, say you had a car accident and you were at fault, where would you feel courage in your body to tell the truth? (Hint: slang word for courage is ‘guts’.)

Some tips

  • Assess yourself honestly when feeling into a yoga posture. If your back won't bend, then don't pretend to make it bend by puffing up your chest. Feel into the whole posture and draw on your own truth by staying with the smooth comfortable breath.

  • If telling the truth is confronting, then it helps to think of ‘If I put myself in their shoes I discover ...’

  • Do my words and actions reflect my thoughts?

  • Use the breath to connect to your body sensations and let them be your guide.

The practice of yoga gives you the space to be free from your mental ‘garbage’, to see the bigger picture and to help you respond positively. Notice how your asana practice can help you experience the truth in your body mind.

Please share your experiences with Satya in class, that way others will feel open to connecting with the group also. Speak your truth!

Om shanti


Inspired by the writings of Nischala Joy Devi, Swami Satyananda and Megan Jones.

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