Satya – Truth

8 limbs of yoga ethics Jun 04, 2021

This post is the second in a series on the 8 Limbs of Yoga.

Satya is the second of the five yamas, or universal truths.

“To one established in truthfulness, actions and their results become subservient.” – Patañjali, “The Yoga Sutras” II-36[1]

The literal meaning of the word satya is “truth.” But in the context of the yamas, it refers to the virtue of being truthful in action, speech, and thought. It includes exaggerations and little white lies. (More on that later.)

According to the Vedas (the oldest religious scriptures in India), satya helps to hold the fabric of reality together. Without satya, the universe cannot function. In the Rig Veda, truthfulness is considered a form of reverence to the divine. In the Upanishads (another ancient Indian religious text), satya is described as the means to Brahman, the Ultimate Reality or Universal Principle. It’s equated to dharma, meaning morality, ethics, or the law of righteousness.

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Ahiṃsā – Do No Harm

8 limbs of yoga ethics May 28, 2021

This post is the first in a series on the 8 Limbs of Yoga.  

Ahiṃsā is the first of five yamas, or universal ethics. 

“In the presence of one firmly established in nonviolence, all hostilities cease.” – Patañjali, “The Yoga Sutras” II-35[1]

Ahiṃsā is frequently translated as “non-harming.” Some people have translated it as “non-killing,” but it’s broader than that. “Hiṃsā” is literally “to cause pain” or “to cause violence,” so ahiṃsā is “not to cause pain.” In the Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist traditions, it includes respect for all living beings and avoiding violence toward anyone.

One question that repeatedly arises is whether one must be vegetarian or vegan to practice ahiṃsā and be a true yogi. B.K.S. Iyengar said yes.[2] Personally, I say no. While it’s better for the planet (and certainly for the cow and the chicken!) if we were all vegetarian,...

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