“The problem that human life sets to us is to discover our true Self, and live according to its truth.”
Understanding truth requires the acceptance that truth is obscured by a veil of illusion. This veil can be dissolved by practicing yoga. The Yoga Sutras offer insight into how this can be accomplished.
Satya or ‘truthfulness’ is the second of the Yamas or ‘principles of ethics’ in Patanjali’s description of Ashtanga Yoga; the philosophical eight-limbed approach to yoga recorded in the Yoga Sutras. The importance of truth can be witnessed (pardon the pun) in the court system. Sworn statements in court begin with the oath, ‘Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?’
Truth must be recognized in thought word and action for it to reverberate without conflicting mental processes. If thoughts and words are not congruent there will be deceit. When actions do not match words there will be irresponsibility. A conscious decision to tell the truth nurtures harmony in thoughts, words and actions.
Being honest with oneself is critical for truth to be projected outwards into the world. Learning to perform yoga postures with a realistic outlook on how a posture should be practiced (or if a pose should be attempted at all) is a lesson in truthfulness. Through yoga postures one can differentiate between, what is... and not what is perceived to be, in regards to range of motion and postural alignment. Discernment of truth can transcend ego-driven behaviour.
Yoga practice that embraces scaling back range of motion and assembling appropriate alignment respects ‘non-harming’ or Ahimsa (the first ethical principle) and weaves it into ‘truthfulness’ or Satya (the second ethical principle). ‘Truthfulness’ connects with ‘non-harming’ in yoga practice and yoga philosophy. This is important in order to ensure truth is helpful and not harmful. Lessons in opening the mind by transcending the ego through the practice of physical yoga can provide a safe environment for yoga practice, and these lessons also have the potential to transform the perspective on life.