Over the last couple of days, after attending a couple of classes at different studios and spending time with my own students, I got to thinking about Satya (Truthfulness). For those of you who do not know, Satya is one of five Yamas. The Yamas are the first limb in the eight limb path as outlined in the Yoga Sutra.
The eight limb path suggests a program of ethical restraints or abstentions (yamas), lifestyle observances (niyamas), postures (asana), breath control (pranayama), withdrawal of the senses (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana) and absorption into the Divine (samadhi). The yamas are about restraining behaviours that are motivated by grasping, aversion, hatred and delusion. At this point you are probably asking what do a couple of classes have to do with Satya (Truthfulness), well….
I attended a class yesterday, that in respect of Satya, was not my favourite class to say the least. The teacher seemed nervous, unsure of what she was doing and sloppily guided us through a hatha flow class that wasn’t very flowy. Being new to the teaching world, I have come to respect and always take the chance to “give them a shot,” but find I quickly decide what I like and do not like. The class jumped from Mountain Pose to Triangle, with not much direction in between, sometimes the breath was directed and sometimes it wasn’t and the teacher rarely left her mat or made any acknowledgement of the students who were in the class. I thought to myself as we muddled through the 75 minutes, is it over yet, and thought perhaps I’m being too judgemental and if i could get into my practice a little deeper than maybe she wouldn’t distract me so much. I managed to survive the mismatch of poses and while I did enjoy a couple of her pose choices, I arose from Savasana feeling a little disappointed. I was leaving not getting the yoga practice I needed or was looking for to start my day.
Now, this wasn’t the first time that I had taken this teachers class but I have always told myself that you must try things at least twice. In order to get past the weirdness and the unexpected, to go again with a clear head and some expectations of what is to come may change your judgement the second time around. As I made my way to collect my belongings I overheard some ladies “reviewing” the class in a whisper to each other about how they greatly disliked the class and the teacher. And ironically as I relayed this story to a wonderful girlfriend of mine, she told me she had encountered a similar incident the other day at yoga where some ladies were remarking on a teachers teaching style, and their lack of the “spiritual side” of yoga and how could that teacher possibly teach. All of this got me thinking about Satya, we all have comments and feedback about teachers or what we like or don’t like but yet we either say things at the wrong time or say nothing at all and why is that?
Satya requires that you consider both the spoken and unspoken aspects of your words. You don’t want to mislead through omission; neither do you have to say everything that’s on your mind – especially if it is hurtful.
As I walked out the studio I thought to myself, maybe I should give her my thoughts on her class on what I did like and didn’t like or perhaps mention that I had overheard these ladies speaking about her class. Would it have made a difference or is it better left unsaid? I strongly believe that every person’s yoga journey is different than mine or yours and that there is a teacher for every person. There are teachers we love and teachers we think are okay and teachers that we avoid, but do we ever tell them this? People are very quick to tell you if they LOVE something but very quick to “zip their lip” if they have any formal criticism. Being a teacher myself I have had the praises of how I love your class, but have yet to hear any real negative feedback, which makes me wonder, why are we not being truthful?
We spend our lives omitting the truth or avoiding the truth, but as Satya outlines speak only of the highest, use your words to elevate the listener. I wonder how many of you tell your teachers what you like and don’t like, do you find that it makes a difference in their style of teaching or do you just stop going back to the ones you dislike?