august spotlight on: satya & ahimsa (truth & non-harming)

In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali challenges us to follow satya, one of the core principles of a yoga practice. The basis of satya, or truthfulness, is outlined in Sutra 2.36: Satya pratishthayam kriya phalasrayatvam (To one established in truthfulness, actions and their results become subservient). In other words, first you follow truth, and then truth will follow you. Many yogis believe this so deeply that they claim once you’re firmly grounded in satya, you are not only an honest person, you become honesty itself. Truth practice may be the most important tenet on the path to wholeness.

So if satya is such an important tenet, why does it not stand alone as this month’s focus? Because, Judith Lasater says, truth telling may “smack of irritating righteousness without another important ingredient:” ahimsa. Ahimsa (non-harming) is actually discussed by Patanjali before satya in Sutra 2.35: Ahimsa pratisthayam tat samnidhau vaira tyagah (In the presence of one firmly established in non-harming, all hostilities cease). Like satya, if we practice non-harming, we become non-harming.

Truth cannot be practiced without ahimsa. This applies to all truth practices: spoken truth, truth in your relationships, truth on the mat. By entwining satya and ahimsa into one meaningful practice, we can reduce suffering in ourselves and in those around us.

Poses for cultivating satya/ahimsa:

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)

Salamba Sirsasana A (Headstand)

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