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YAMAS: YOGA’S ETHICAL GUIDELINES FOR SELF-REGULATING

Have you noticed when you are honest with yourself that being truthful with others is easier? 

Satya is the second yama  in the yoga’s ethical guidelines for self-regulation. It is the practice of being truthful with integrity so we can deliver the right communication. 

This week, we continue a series that takes a closer look at yoga’s ethical guidelines for living. These are called yamas, and they fall under Raja Yoga, the branch that governs the disciplines about controlling the mind and senses. The first two branches on Patanjali’s eightfold path are yamas and niyamas.

Simply put, yamas are things not to do, niyamas are things to do. Yamas can be thought of as practices of self-restraint, while niyamas are virtues to cultivate, or observances.

The second yama is satya, which is truthfulness.

A woman I’ll call Sandy was upset with her friend, yet she paused before she spoke to her. Being thoughtful about what to say, Sandy decided she would not say anything for now. She was able to step back. In doing so, she wanted to be in her own integrity yet share her concerns so a mutual discussion would be possible. 

When the conversation finally happened, Sandy felt relief as she shared her truth from a less triggered place. She felt that a balanced, right communication did take place. It felt good to have waited. Her anger was no longer in the forefront of her mind. 

Another example of satya is how we engage with the person you are calling for a service call issue. That person remains minimally involved. Being truthful of what your needs are without stating harmful words is the practice of both yamas.

Self care comes in voicing your needs without the need to be abusive toward yourself or others. This approach is gentle and self validating in a very positive way.

What an important step it is to be honest with yourself. 

Being in integrity with the deepest part of yourself guiding you creates a wonderful approach to life. There is a need to listen deeply to what is being asked of you in the most mundane ways.  allows the truth of who you are to emerge.

Tuning in is a step in that direction. There are moments in our day where we are more honest with ourselves. This can happen when there is silence present in your day such as when you are going to bed at night or when you first arise in the morning. 


Ask yourself: What is the truth or what matters most to me at this moment? Am I being honest with myself and those around me? 

Another time can be during a time of transition in your day. As you enter the next activity of your day, ask yourself: have I been truthful this day? With myself and those around me? 

We cannot always see the consequences immediately when we are not truthful. In some instances, the impact may not be known for a period of time. Yet, when you are not truthful, you are sending a message to the universe you may have a trust issue or do not have faith.

Being honest with yourself matters. Bringing in the first principle of ahimsa allows for self-compassion so that the inquiry into yourself is gentle, compassionate and loving kind. 

Being honest with others brings in ahimsa, the practice of non-violence, as well. If the truth may harm another person, consider the choice to be silent. 

Consider these three questions before you share the truth as you see it: 

  • Is it true?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Is it kind?

Follow my series on the yamas and niyamas by starting with ahimsa.

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