In teacher training yesterday we considered the second of the Yamas (restraints), which is Satya – truth or non-lying. Our conversation of Satya was quite interesting and I could think of many examples where I am not fully truthful (as I think we all can). Often, for me, being untruthful occurs in an attempt to protect my face (the image I want to present to the world) or the face of others – more on that later. So, I woke up today in the right frame of mind to think about Satya as I went through my day.
Having gotten the kids up and off to school, I quickly hit a road block. I have been having a flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis this week, because of a combination of a change in weather, hormonal shifts, and being off of two medications that I normally take. The result is that my joints are very sore and feel simultaneously really tight and really loose (in a bad way). The pain associated with this also causes nausea, compounded by a lovely little sinus issue, and I haven’t been eating much either. So, the upshot is that I’m not feeling so hot.
The decision before me today was whether or not to attend a 9:30 Vinyasa class. As I went through the rest of my morning leading up to the time when I really had to get ready, I was thinking about teacher training class the night before. So, when time came to make a choice, I found myself in an interesting conundrum. On the one hand, I could go to class – but then was I lying to myself about whether this was right for me and overdoing in a way that could be bad? On the other hand, I could stay home and rest a bit before work – but then was I lying to myself about what I was capable of and not stretching my boundaries in the way needed for growth? Hmm… I went back and forth and back and forth and finally, as time got late, just put on my yoga outfit and headed out. Great!
I would love to now tell you that this was absolutely the right decision and that the class helped me feel better. But, I cannot tell a lie (ha!). By 10 minutes in, I knew that this wasn’t working out. I got through, spending a good amount of time in Child’s Pose or Adho Mukha Svanasana. That’s ok, but even then, I was somewhere in between crying and yarking the entire class. It just was so not pretty. I couldn’t really concentrate on the poses because I was so busy concentrating on not physically falling apart. And, as you might guess, there was no calm to be found.
So, great. I made a choice in an effort to not lie, but it turned out that it wasn’t that simple. How was I to know what choice to make? I’m still not sure about that, but in reflecting on the whole situation, I am pretty sure that this all came down to an issue of Asmita (egoism or an attachment to a particular “self”). I reduced the options I had to two in my mind (stay or go – might there have been another? – I think so) and then attempted to make sense of them through this lens of Asmita. It kind of ended up as a question of: Should I stay home, which signifies my being “honest” about my physical state, and therefore a good yogi? Should I go, which signifies my willingness to work hard at this practice, and therefore be a good yogi? If I stay home, does that mean I’m lazy and a bad yogi? If I go, does that mean I’m not hearing my body and a bad yogi?
Yikes! No matter how you slice it, I am pretty sure I was being overly interested in this image of myself (for myself or for others) as a good yogi. That’s not very good yogi of me… This craziness is made all the more crazy by the fact that I knew on one level that I was in danger of practicing because of need for a particular self-image. But, I hadn’t parsed it out enough to see that there was a whole other level of the same Klesa going on there. Oh, this is such a process, eh? Learned patterns of behavior or thinking are so hard to unlearn. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t keep trying.