Beyond Truthfulness: practicing Satya on and off the mat

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`Yamas` (moral discipline) are observances recommended by yogic philosophy and teaching as part of the eight-limbed path of yoga, developed by Patanjali. Unlike a commandment that has to be strictly followed, the five yamas are established for enthusiasts to develop a mindful and healthy lifestyle.

The second yama is called Satya. The Sanskrit word literally translates to fact, reality, or true nature in English. In its simplest form, satya means upholding the truth. Although the yama certainly encompasses honesty, it also includes integrity to ourselves, our lives, and our inner divine. The practice invites us to be our truest, most authentic selves. More than simply telling your truth, you have to also practice and live it. 

For instance, you can’t keep saying that you want a break but also accept overtime work from your office; or know deep down that you want to commit into a serious relationship but go on casual, meaningless dates.  These small contradictions keep us from manifesting what it is we really want. Satya encourages us to align our thoughts, words, and actions with our desires, while keeping them pure and harmless. 

Reflection piece: In what situations do you notice that your actions are in conflict with what you feel? Why? Who or what are you protecting?

Note: truth shouldn’t cause harm

This yama doesn’t invite us to be frank and forward in telling negative observations, no matter how truthful they are. Our ethical code doesn’t live in a bubble. There’s a reason why ahimsa (non-violence) is the first yama. It tells us that whatever we do should not cause harm to others. Hence, if telling your version of the truth will hurt others, you have to think twice whether your opinion matters. Practicing satya isn’t simply about blindly telling the truth regardless of the consequence. It’s making sure that you speak and act with thought and intention instead of just saying whatever is on your mind. 


How to practice satya on the mat

  • Set an intention in your practice. Your intention is the truth as to why you are on the mat today. It will direct your reality. Is your intention to get stronger? To get better sleep? To feel less stressed? Whenever you feel like you don’t want to practice, remind yourself of your intention to get on the mat. 
  • Listen to your physical body. Pain, discomfort, and injury are different languages that your body uses to communicate its truth. Don’t ignore that. If you’re feeling tired, or healing from an injury, don’t force yourself into doing another Chaturanga Dandanasana. It’s a violation of both satya and ahimsa
  • Rather than believing that you are not strong, flexible, or good enough, honor the reality of your body: it just needs practice. Everybody can improve through practice, and no one is an exception. 


How to practice satya off the mat

  • Do you feel that you are striving for things that you don’t actually want, but are conditioned by society, family, friends, or loved ones as things you should aspire to have? Ask the hard questions and be completely honest with yourself on whether you are living the life that aligns with your truth.  
  • Make sure that you speak to yourself and others with kindness and intention. Before speaking, ask yourself: is what I’m saying good, true, and beneficial? 
  • Speak up for yourself when your voice needs to be heard.
  • Shift from judgment to observation. For instance, instead of saying “I am fat”, say “My body doesn’t meet yet my standards but it can always improve.” In the first sentence, you are imposing your standards on the world by labeling yourself fat and calling it your reality; in the second, you are simply and clearly expressing your need (to be less fat) in the moment.

Moving Forward! Start a journey to a Yogi Lifestyle – 4 The Theory

Moving Forward! Start a journey to a Yogi Lifestyle – 4  The Theory

Love the theory part, not so much that I like to read now, but so relax and easy that someone there talk and I listen, the science, the philosophy, the art, and the stories.

I had already much forgotten to recall exactly how many years from the day I enjoy listening to the teacher’s classroom teaching.

It’s back to my old golden days.

After all, after reading for so many years, my eye sights getting bad. Just packed up all my books into 26 cartons of boxes while preparing to move them to another location.

After this course, I think, likely will start collecting and pick up again, books on the Yoga’s title.

It’s pleasant reading on the Yoga Sutra, though initially having difficulties and hard time stirring my tongues over the Sanskrit words and trying to figure out what’s the meaning by reading the long explanation inside the manual, which eventually made me more confused.

Lucky enough, I managed to find and organized from the internet.
Well, IF, I meant “IF”, If I have the time, likely will add on to it’s German and Chinese or even other languages translation at my leisure if I can find it.

Here share if you need.

Here go we happy Journey to Yoga Lifestyle.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra Translation Sanskrit to English


汇编 Complied by Angie Chua 20190909.

Philosophy – Yoga Sutra

A review of the Yoga Sutra
If you have attended any yoga classes or courses, you have probably heard about the Yoga Sutras. I’m not so familiar with the text so her is a short review!
Acording to Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati Yoga means union & sutra means thread: Yoga means union of the parts of ourselves, which were never divided in the first place. Yoga literally means to yoke, from the root yuj, which means to join; it is the same as the absorption in the state of samadhi. Sutra means thread, and this thread, or multiple threads, weave a tapestry of insight and direct experience. Some say that the name of the text uses the word sutra in its plural form, as Yoga Sutras, in that each of the sutras, or threads, comes together to form a complete tapestry. Others say that it is used in its singular form, as Yoga Sutra, in that there is one, consistent thread that flows through the entire text. Both views add a useful perspective to the process being described. In the writings on this website, both terms are intentionally used.
Referred to Wikipedia The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali are 196 Indian sutras. The Yoga Sutras were compiled around 400 CE by Sage Patanjali, taking materials about yoga from older traditions.
There have been much discussion around who Patanjali was and when he lived but the conclusion today is that we don’t really know the exact time or who he was or when he wrote the text.
According to Wikipedia Patañjali divided his Yoga Sutras into four chapters or books (Sanskrit pada), containing in all 196 aphorisms, divided as follows:
Samadhi Pada (51 sutras): Samadhi refers to a blissful state where the yogi is absorbed into the One. Samadhi is the main technique the yogin learns by which to dive into the depths of the mind to achieve Kaivalya. The author describes yoga and then the nature and the means to attaining samādhi. This chapter contains the famous definitional verse: “Yogaś citta-vritti-nirodhaḥ” (“Yoga is the restraint of mental modifications”)
Sadhana Pad (55 sutras). Sadhana is the Sanskrit word for “practice” or “discipline”. Here the author outlines two forms of Yoga: Kriya Yoga (Action Yoga) and Ashtanga Yoga (Eightfold or Eightlimbed Yoga).
Kriya Yoga is closely related to Karma Yoga, which is also expounded in Chapter 3 of the Bhagavad Gita, where Arjuna is encouraged by Krishna to act without attachment to the results or fruit of action and activity. It is the yoga of selfless action and service.
Ashtanga Yoga describes the eight limbs that together constitute Rāja Yoga.
The eight limbs of Ashatanga Yoga is:

  1. Yama
  2. Niyama
  3. Asana
  4. Pranayama
  5. Pratyahara
  6. Dharana
  7. Dhyana
  8. Samadhi

Vibhuti Pada (56 sutras). Vibhuti is the Sanskrit word for “power” or “manifestation”. ‘Supra-normal powers’ (Sanskrit: siddhi) are acquired by the practice of yoga. Combined simultaneous practice of Dhāraṇā, Dhyana and Samādhi is referred to as Samyama, and is considered a tool of achieving various perfections, or Siddhis. The temptation of these powers should be avoided and the attention should be fixed only on liberation. The purpose of using samadhi is not to gain siddhis but to achieve Kaivalya. Siddhis are but distractions from Kaivalaya and are to be discouraged. Siddhis are but maya, or illusion.
Kaivalya Pada (34 sutras): Kaivalya literally means “isolation”, but as used in the Sutras stands for emancipation, liberation and used interchangeably with moksha (liberation), which is the goal of yoga. The Kaivalya Pada describes the process of liberation and the reality of the transcendental ego.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are also sometimes referred to as “Raja Yoga” or the “Royal Yoga”.
Hope this gave you a better understanding of what the Yoga Sutras is 🙂
Kristine Flo

Yoga Sutra Study – 4.17

Taduparaga apeksitvat cittasya vastu jnata ajnatam
“An object remains known or unknown according to the conditioning or expectation of the consciousness.”
In the book “Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali”, BKS Iyengar commented that when consciousness reflects on the object without condition, taint, or expectation, its real essence is know. However, cognition and perception are usually involved in the process of obtaining knowledge of the object. As a result, the knowledge of the object is colored. This sutra can be illustrated by a famous Chinese story of Su Dongpo, an ancient Chinese scholar, and Zen Master Fo Yin.
Su Dongpo and Fo Yin were very good friends, they always debated on philosophy and Buddhism, and Fo Yin always won. One day, Su and Fo Yin were meditating in the monastery. After the meditation, they sat face to face, and Su asked, “What do you see in front of you?”
“An enlightened Buddha!” Fo Yin smiled, “and what do you see?”
“A pile of bull shit!” Su laughed out loudly, feeling happy that he had made fun of Fo Yin and finally defeated him. Hearing this, Fo Yin smiled again.
With a light heart, Su went back home. His younger sister saw him and asked, ”What made you so happy, my dear brother?” Su told the story to his younger sister. The sister commented, “Oh my brother, you lost again.”
“What?” Su could not understand.
“Fo Yin has reached the state of Buddha’s. That is why he saw you as a Buddha.” The sister explained, “On the other hand, you had nothing but bull shit in your mind, as a result, you see everything else as bull shit.”
In daily life, we often look at an object or another person with conditioning, bias, or prejudice, without knowing that the process of cognition is actually the coloring of our own mind, the unenlightened mind. As a result, we may be unable to understand the actual circumstances and gain the complete knowledge, or we produce negative emotions which may make the situation worse. The enlightened ones see the real essence of one another. He sees everything around him is peaceful.
To keep the consciousness uncolored, we can imagine ourselves as a mirror. This mirror reflects our inner world to the outer world. If we see something which gives tension, worries, anxieties or angers, we know that it is due to colored mind inside us. Only when we managed to see peace and tranquilization in all objects, our mind is free, and the object is known.

Yoga Sutra Study – 4.15

Vastusamye cittabhedat tayoh vibhaktah panthah

“Due to the variance in the quality of mind-content, each person may view the same object differently, according to his own way of thinking.”

Chapter 4 - BlindMenElephant

Long time ago, there were a group of blind men. They wanted to learn what an elephant is like, so they found an elephant and touched it. Each blind man touched a certain part of the elephant’s body, so each of them had a different conclusion on what the elephant looked like. This is the well-known story of “Blind Men and an Elephant”. Each blind man perceived the elephant differently but the elephant is the same one. Actually the elephant exists no matter the blind men touched it or not; just like the gravity is always there before and after Newton discovered it.

In real life, our mind perceives objects differently because we have different family background, educational level, life experiences, and so on. For example, looking at the celebrity of an expensive skin care product: consumer A may find her skin shiny and beautiful because A needs a product to improve the quality of skin and is already prepared to spend on this product which is ranked No.1 among similar products; consumer B may find the celebrity’s skin quality just so so, because B already has good skin and there is no need for her to spend too much money on this. The skin product is the same one, but it is different in individual consumer’s point of view.

Due to unripe intelligence and differences in the development of consciousness, each individual’s perception of objects is usually colored by intellect, desire, ego, and/or other factors. However, the objects’ essence does not change. When a yoga practitioner reaches perfection in his sadhana, supreme knowledge will flow in continuously, and he will no longer be bounded by intellect, desire, or ego. By then, he will remain as a witness of all happenings in life, without getting attached.

As intellect, desire and ego stop us from realizing the essence of objects, we want to eliminate their effect in daily life. Practicing samyama on objects is a quick way to become attuned to the essential reality within all objects.

Yoga Sutra Study – 4.13

4.13 te vyakta suksmah gunatmanah

These (states) have manifested or subtle constituent forces of nature.

The forms of nature (prakrti) may be manifested (vyakta) or subtle (suksma). If an object can be perceived by the senses, we call it material or manifested. If an object cannot be perceived, it remains hidden or emerges later, then it is in a subtle state. Be it manifested or subtle, the object is composed of three constituent forces, or gunas of nature, namely sattva, rajas and tamas. Just like all colors in the world are made of three primary colors (red, green and blue), the three gunas are the primary constituents of all objects. In Sutra 4.12, Patanjali mentions that the existence of the past and the future is as real as that of the present. Past and future are due to different modes of manifestation of the gunas,

Sattva has the nature of pure, light, illumination or harmony. Rajas has the nature of activity, motion, movement or changing. Tamas has the nature of stability, stasis, darkness, dullness, heaviness and so on. When there is no manifestation of the universe, the three gunas are at equilibrium. Only when there are fluctuations or modifications, these gunas start to manifest. As the gunas change, various phenomena are produced in the universe.

Each guna does not stand on itself, but always mixes with the other two. However, at a particular time, a particular guna predominates. When sattva is predominating and rajas and tamas are under subordination, the person finds it easy to do concentration and meditation. When rajas is predominating, sattva and tamas are controlled, the person could still sit in meditative posture, but his mind is busy. When there is preponderance of tamas, the person get inertia and feels lazy to do action.

Having understood the three gunas, it is very common for practitioners to think that sattva should be increased. By increasing sattva, we can have brightness and brilliance in the face, lightness in the body, we feel pure, peace and illumination. However, yoga is not simply this. Yoga is a process of realization of liberation, kaivalya. Attaching to any of the gunas is not going to lead us to liberation. As a yoga practitioner, we should free ourselves from the cycle of gunas, go beyond our perceptions and understand that the essence of the universe remains the same. This is further explained in the next sutra, 4.14.

Yoga Sutra Study – 4.10


Tasam anaditvam ca asisah nityatvat

 In sutra 4.9, Patanjali mentions about subconscious imprints (samskara) and memory. This sutra continues to explain that these samskaras and memories have existed eternally, as the desire to live is eternal.

 Desire is an earnest longing for attaining some object or goal. All living beings have desires in order to perpetuate their existence. When a desire arises, there is a sort of stirring inside the person, he started to make plans and act accordingly. Thus, desire is the driving force behind all actions. It is like the fuel in the car, without fuel, the car will not move.

 Desire is the root of other emotions. When a desire is fulfilled, one feels proud. This may lead to greed, which is going to cause serious problems in life. When a desire is not fulfilled, one feel upset, angry, etc.; this is also problematic.

 It is not possible and not practical to “kill” all the desires within us and around us, because desires are eternal. Then how to minimize the effect of desires in our life? Recall the last time when we desired for something. The reason why we ran after it, is we thought we would be happy by attaining it. But think about this: a woman is never attractive to someone who does not desire for her; only the man who desires for her feels happy to be with her. Thus, the woman herself does not equal to “happiness”.   Back to our previous example, no matter what we are chasing after, we have mistaken it for “happiness”, by associating ourselves with our desires. If we keep thinking in this way, we will never be able to realize our cheerful nature and become free. In yoga practice, we do not suggest to “kill the desires” or “kill the mind”, but to live with it. As Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 5 Verse 23), he who before leaving this body, right here, is able to endure the impetus rising from desire and action, he is harmonized, he is a happy man.

 By practicing asana, pranayama, and meditation, practitioner will gradually become discriminative. He will see the whole world as it is, accept the existence of desires, mind and ego, and make them at rest.

Yoga Sutra Study – 4.7


Karma asukla akrsnam yoginah trividham itaresam

 In this verse, Patanjali tells us the karma of the yogi is neither white nor black; but the karma of the others is threefold.

 Law of Karma states that for every action performed, there is another reaction created, which in turn produces a new counter action. Thus an endless chain of actions and reactions is produced; this increases the chain of material activities, keeping the performer in material bondage. Here, ‘action’ not only includes what you do, but also what you think. Thinking is mental karma. In fact, any deed, any thought that causes an effect is called karma.

 For ordinary people, karma is threefold. In his book of “Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali”, B.K.S. Iyengar explains that the three types of karma are white, black and mixed (or grey). White actions produce sattvic effects, black produce tamasic, while grey produces rajasic effect. But for advanced yogi, karma is not white (asukla) and not black (akrsnam). He has mastered all levels of inner process and has transcended sattva, rajas and tamas. His consciousness is always on the Divine, thus he no longer collects impressions, and his actions are free from the seed of reactions.

 Swami Sivananda explains the threefold karma from a different point of view. The three types of karma are accumulated works (sanchita), the works that fructify (prarabdha), and the current works (agami or kriyamana). Sanchita is accumulated from the past; part of it can be seen as the character of a person, his tendencies and aptitudes, capacities, inclinations and desires, etc. Prarabdha is the portion of the past karma which is responsible for the present body. It is something like the amount on your current month’s credit card bill, which is already spent and you have to pay it back. Thus, prarabdha cannot be avoided or changed. Agami is the karma which is now being made for the future. Swami Sivananda says that karma is produced by desires and thoughts. As long as there are desires, there is karma. However, karma can be destroyed. By attaining knowledge of Brahman, sanchita karma is destroyed. By realizing that one is an instrument in the hands of Divine and one is silent witness of the actions of the senses and of the mind, agami can be destroyed. Gradually, one’s character, thoughts and actions are changed. As a result, he can rise to a high level to perfection and become a perfect yogi. At the stage, he is beyond virtue and vice, beyond gain and loss.  

Yoga Sutra Study – 3.53

Ksana tatkramayoh samyamat vivekajam jnanam
“By samyama on moment and on the continuous flow of moments, the yogi gains exalted knowledge, free from the limitations of time and space.”
This is the last practice of samyama, which is discussed in the Vibhuti Pada. Ksana, or a moment, is defined as the ultimate particle of time, according to Vyasa. A continuous flow of such moments is called krama.
In daily life, we operate according to “time”. However, time is not krama. Time is created by our mind, in order to organize phenomena one after the other. Our mind is not capable to understand that there is only present moment, so it creates the concept of past and future. Everyone talks about past and future, but no one has ever seen past or future. From the viewpoint of consciousness, our life experience is not a movie, which seems to be an unfolding process, but many independent events that happen simultaneously in a moment. Consciousness exists at our birth, during our growth and mature period, and at our death. Consciousness is at every moment simultaneously. However, as our mind is functioning, we are unable to realize this fact. If you ask someone who has near-death experience, he would probably tell you that all his life experiences flash through in one instant. This is because the mind suspends at the time of death.
Patanjali says that by samyama on the present moment and the process of succession, higher knowledge is revealed. This knowledge is the knowledge born of discriminative understanding (vivekajam jnanam), it gives one ability to discriminate between moments and succession. In sutra 3.54, Patanjali continues to explain that discriminative knowledge enables one to discriminate between similar objects, to see through the mere appearances and go into underlying reality.
Everyday we are going through a lot of happenings, collecting many thoughts and feelings. Sometimes we become so involved in these mind activities that we lose control of our emotions, behaviors, etc.. It seems we are blind folded, no matter how hard we try, we still cannot see through, we still cannot realize what is actually going on. Thus we fall into a vicious circle, following which, a big mass in life. This is the moment when we need to use this technique. Focus on a single situation, or a moment, which causes you tension or discourages you. When this samyama is done, you will realize what is actually going on and what is keeping you from realizing your destiny.

Yoga Sutra Study – 3.45


Sthula svarupa suksma anvaya arthavatva samyamat bhutajayah

 “By samyama on the elements – their mass, forms, subtlety, conjunction and purposes, the yogi becomes Lord over them all.”

 Objects in the universe exist at various levels, but they are all made from the five basic elements: earth (prthvi), water (ap), fire (tejas), air (vayu) and ether (akasa). The five elements can be described by five attributes:

 –       Mass, or grossness (sthula): What we can perceive by the sense organs. The way in which the senses grasp the elements is the character of the elements, such as the shape of an object, whether it is light, sound or water, etc.

 –       Form (svarupa): The essential nature of the element. It is the status from its own point of view, independent of what we think or what our senses interpret. For example, an object’s solidity, fluidity, mobility, etc. Svarupa is at higher level which is beyond our interpretation.

 –       Subtlety (suksma): An element’s subtle essence, also known as tanmatra, which is the subtlest form in which the element can still be perceived. It is the vibration of an object, perceived in samadhi.

 –       Conjunction (anvaya): The combination of the qualities (gunas) in an element. The five elements are nothing but sattva, rajas and tamas. Every element has a particular makeup of the three gunas. However, the gunas undergo some peculiar modification of themselves and their presence in the elements is hidden.

 –       Purpose (arthavatva): The purpose for which they exist. An element exists and experiences, but there is only one purpose for these, liberation. 

The above are the five aspects of the elements. In this sutra, Patanjali teaches us to concentrate and do samyama on them. We may practice this on any object, not only focus on its external form, but also try to penetrate it deeper and deeper. For example, when you are sitting at the beach, focus on the sand. Firstly, what color is it? Then samyama on its essential nature, such as humidity. Next, try to perceive its subtle essence, in samadhi. The fourth step is to samyama on the combination of gunas in sand. Lastly, which is also the most important step, is to perceive its purpose of exist. The sand does not exist for itself. It brings forth consciousness and awareness. As Sri Aurobindo says:”Matter itself, you will one day realize, is not material, it is not substance, but a form of consciousness, guna, the result of quality of being, perceived by sense knowledge.”