Gruninger: The Second Yama – SATYA (Truthfulness)

Los Alamos

Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya
Mrityor-Maa Amritam Gamaya
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti!

“Let my journey be
From the unreal to the real
From darkness (ignorance) to light (knowledge)
From mortality (finite) to immortality (infinite)
Peace, Peace, Peace!”

This prayer from the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad acknowledges our journey in yoga to the highest truth.

This week’s Yama, Satya, has to do with truthfulness or honesty. Satya requires witnessing, awareness and balance. Truthfulness does not have only to do with being truthful in our words but in our being, actions and intentions. It is about being genuine and authentic.

Swami Kripalu says, “To practice truth, we should decrease our practice of untruth. Truth is speaking that which promotes the welfare of all living beings, and which is not adulterated with untruth.”

He also says that we must practice truthfulness without violence (remember last month’s Yama – Ahimsa?)

Truthfulness also encompasses being true to who we are and how we want to show up in the world. We shouldn’t downplay or exaggerate.

On a more philosophical level, instead of identifying or labeling ourselves by our thoughts, feelings, moods, actions, judgements and experiences, which are all temporary and changing. Truth from a Tantric Hatha Yoga position recognizes and allows that our certainty might change as we learn new things or become more aware. The goal is to be authentic, to communicate our feelings and maintain integrity and honesty.

Truth however is not always black and white. Truth can be contradictory. Consider directions, if you are coming from one direction you might tell someone to go one way, if you are coming from another direction you might indicate a different path. Both directions are correct and truthful. Danna Faulds writes: “There are as many paths to truth as there are heartbeats, leaves, fireflies in summer twilight.”

Practicing Satya in daily life includes our relationship with ourselves, others and society. It is about the practice of restraint as well as about taking our time when speaking and carefully considering the words we choose to speak.

Be genuine to your true self
Let go of deception

On your yoga mat:

  • stay present to the quality of the pose
  • maintain balance between your ego and your heart/self
  • work at the level that is right for you without judgement or opinion
  • let your practice be flexible and based on your needs

If speaking truth to another would create harm our practice might be of ahimsa and non-harming by keeping silent.

There is a beautiful Sufi saying:

“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates.
At the first gate, ask yourself ‘Is it true?
At the second gate ask, ‘Is it necessary?
At the third gate ask, ‘Is it kind?”

Next month we will look at Brahmacharya (moderation).

About Jacci Gruninger

Jacci Gruninger is a Certified Yoga Therapist and Thai Yoga Massage Therapist. She has been teaching for 21 years and spent 12 of those years training yoga teachers for the Pranakriya School of Yoga Healing Arts. She regularly helps clients manage the ups and downs of life with yoga, meditation, breathwork and bodywork. Her office is located at 190 Central Park Square #209. For her in-person and online teaching schedule and information on other services, visit