The Truth About YogaWritten by Kellie Jones May 28, 2017
As with all things in life the truth about something really is mostly just perceptual, pretty much everything can be questioned especially now we know about quantum physics and neuroplasticity! The ancient texts from the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali are estimated to have been written prior to 400 CE so there is more than 5000 years of room to question what it actually is but this is exactly what I love about yoga. Try googling ‘what is yoga?’ you will end up just as confused as when you didn’t know! One description I read was ‘Yoga is a spiritual science of self-realisation’ and if you break that down it could mean a non-material, observation and experiment of the fulfillment of one’s own potential, haha and we’re back to not knowing a thing again, love it!
One thing it definitely isn’t is just another exercise class although it may be portrayed as such if you have only ever seen pictures. There are 8 main limbs of yoga, one of them being the ‘asanas’ or physical practice but the first limb is the ‘yamas’ or how we conduct ourselves in life. There are 5 yamas and as we are on the subject of truth I thought it would be cool to focus on Satya which means truthfulness. Satya is the yogic practice of carefully choosing our words so they do the least harm, being honest with ourselves and others through our feelings, thoughts, words and deeds.
When we are on our mats Satya is about learning to assess ourselves honestly not critically, to do what is the best non-harming version for our bodies and minds in that moment. Something we may forget is that we are on the mat ultimately to feel better which is why meditation, breathwork, and self-study are such key parts of a yoga practice as they sensitize us to how we really feel. The pose is not the goal, feeling good in the pose is. Yoga is, however, a practice so most of us struggle with this one for a good long while.
Satya is crucial for teachers as not only do we have to guide our students we also have to lead by example. As teachers, it is easy to end up working through exhaustion and illness and our ego minds can drive us to injury if we push too hard to achieve a pose. We have to let go of the expectation of others and ourselves, slow down, listen and breath. It is amazing that when we allow our intuition to lead the way how easy something we struggled with can become. For years I have struggled with my fear of handstand and have tried many different ways to achieve it without success so I just kind of gave up worrying about it. At a recent workshop, there was the option to handstand and I hadn’t tried for a considerable time so I thought I’ll just do one and prop up against the wall. Then like magic, I floated up and balanced without the need for the wall! I believe this because I had no expectation of myself, no attachment to the outcome and I honestly felt strong enough to have a go.
Ultimately the hope is that whether you are a student, a teacher or maybe just contemplating yoga that you start to understand that is not about achievement or looking good in your yoga gear it’s about how you feel when you are on the mat and off of it. Achievement, however, does give you a shot of dopamine and receiving praise and positive feedback increases your serotonin levels so as long as you attempt a crazy eight with consideration for your body and put your best yoga pants on because you feel good in them then honestly it’s all yoga!