Practicing Ahima and Satya on the yoga mat

From complete beginners to the most experienced yogi, we can all feel frustrated when our physical yoga practice doesn’t progress as quickly as we would like….

I’m not different, my corporate trained mind wanted to see quick results, to deliver above expectation… pushed to do more, …. and got frustrated every time when results were below imagination.

I realized that this way I will not progress, that I have to accept who I am and were I am now, in this very moment and act accordingly – act with Ahimsa and Satya in my mind.

‘Ahimsa’ is the very first Yama, often thought as the most important, which means ‘non-violence’ or ‘non-harming’. In this sense, we’re talking about non-violence in all aspects of life. When we act with ‘Ahimsa’ in mind, we don’t physically harming others, ourselves, or nature; don’t think negative thoughts about others or ourselves, and make sure that what we do and how we do it is done in harmony, rather than harm.

Remembering about Ahimsa while doing asana will help us start thinking positively about our body, and accept ourselves completely with all our limitations (not having only negative thoughts or perception). Non-violence in the physical sense means we don’t push ourselves over the edge. Of course we challenge ourselves in order to grow, we act outside our comfort zone, but never to the point of harm.

Satya ‘truthfulness’ is the second of the Yamas. It is more than just telling the truth, is a central concept that defines the ‘unchangeable, absolute truth’, a restraint from falsehood in an action (body), words (speech, writing), feelings or thoughts (mind).

From this perspective practicing asana with Satya in mind can be very similar to applying Ahimsa. Each time we get on a mat it is important to be completely honest with what we actually need in that very moment, not what the others think we need or are able to do. Dishonesty with ourselves can often cause a physical pain and harm.

By respecting our boundaries and listening to our bodies, the practice becomes a way to learn about ourselves. When we let go of the expectations of what we ‘should’ be able to do, and stop blaming ourselves, our body will respond by working with us, not against us.

Beata, 200 Hrs YTT, November 2015