On January 8, I started a Tuesday night beginner's class. I figured that with the advent of a new year, it would be a fresh start for me as well as the students. Six students showed up, four of them brand new to yoga and two of them ongoing students. As always, the students taught me as much or more than I taught them. New students have such a fresh insight into yoga and ask such great questions.
After studying yoga for 23 years and teaching for 13 years, I am continually surprised by how the Yamas and Niyamas relate to every situation. The Yama I'm referring to is Satya, truthfulness.
Carl Jung writes, "A lie would make no sense unless the truth was felt to be dangerous." Lie seems like a strong word, but when used as a noun, it has many meanings: untruth, falsehood, fib, fabrication, deception, invention, fiction, piece of fiction, exaggeration, etc. So, there are many kinds of non-truths.
According to my own emotions in a situation, I often ask myself, "Is that thought true?" And most of the time the answer is no. I give a lot of the credit for my awareness and realization of this Yama to my primary yoga teacher. She has taught and continues to teach me so much more than asanas (poses), and I am forever grateful to her.
We put so many expectations on ourselves that we sometimes feel forced to tell a lie. I've decided to issue myself a challenge and try to count how many times in one day I lie. I know without a doubt that it will be way more than I imagine. Most of the lies won't be intentional, but I'll keep a journal and in an upcoming post let you know what I discovered. Who knows how it will start, but it could start as soon as I wake up with a thought like, "I got up late because my husband didn't wake me up." Lie number one right out of bed! I'm certainly old enough to be responsible for getting myself up on time.
I watch and listen to student tell themselves lies in class. I'm not flexible so I can't do yoga, I'm not as good as the person next to me, I'm too old … and so on. With beginners, I gently remind them that yoga is not a competitive sport, and they only need to focus on their own pose in class. With more intermediate students, I often ask them if what they just said is true, and usually that leads into a brief discussion about Satya. All of us need reminders about what is true and what is not.
In my first beginners class this year, a student asked me if I really thought a 60-year-old person could change the bad habits they had created throughout their lives. I told this student that first they must have the awareness something needs to change, and then they have to be willing to do the work necessary to change it.