Satya is included in the yamas which are the moral and ethical guidelines for yoga practitioners given in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
Satya is the Sanskrit word for truth and my personal practice over the last fourteen years has driven me in search of the truest definition satya for me personally.
When I first started practicing Ashtanga Yoga I changed my life radically. I shaved my head, gave away all my “fancy” clothes and stopped wearing make-up.
In many ways, my discovery of yoga coincided with a need to make a major lifestyle change so I readily adopted what I thought the yoga practice required of me. I took on this new identity like a part in a play. I studied, explored and tried it on over my personality. In some ways it was a new type of spiritual materialism that I became fascinated with. In another way, it felt so cleansing to let go of all the accessories of my life and strip down to the bare minimum, but it also wasn’t exactly truthful to who I am.
After a year, I started to grow my hair out again and reflect on the process of transformation that the yoga practice had begun. I was certainly healthier and more conscious of myself and my environment, but I was not yet totally truthful to myself.
I describe the my journey to India in depth in my first book Sacred Fire and it was during my trips to India that I was able to reflect most clearly on my experience of truthfulness.
Once of the things that I love about the physical practice of yoga is that the body does not lie. It cannot fake things or cover them up in the same way as the mind. The body has a naked honesty to it that is equalizing and the vehicle of the Ashtanga Yoga practice reveals the truth of who you really are to yourself.
Through many years of practice I realized that in order for me to maintain satya as a principle I had to be true to myself just as my physical asana practice is a true reflection of my current state. As a yogi, you cannot pretend to be anything if you are living in accordance with the yogic principles.
You cannot mold yourself to fit into someone else’s box of what it means to be a yoga practitioner. You have to find your own truth through the practice and allow it to be an honest expression of who you are.
Things change and evolve through the practice and many people hunger for that magical transformation of their mind, their body or their life. But if you never drop down and experience the reality of where you truthfully are because you are striving so hard to be somewhere else you will never really know yourself.
After many years of introspection, I realized that beauty is something that has intrinsic value for me. Since beauty has intrinsic value to me I honor it as a value in my life. In order for me to live in accordance with satya I have to acknowledge this openly. I like beautiful things and enjoy making myself look beautiful. Beauty for me is both material, spiritual, energetic and emotional and I value it deeply.
Beauty is the experience of life at its best, a perfect sunrise after a dark night, a rainbow after a torrential downpour, generosity amidst suffering and strength through adversity.
Beauty is the awe-inspiring harmony of Beethoven’s symphonies, the mouth-watering taste of a ripe mango, the feeling in your heart from a smile. Some people might consider me superficial to value beauty, but for me beauty is the magic of life.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise