Yoga Instructor Training: Yogic Philosophy

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Yoga Instructor Training: Yogic Philosophy

yoga teacher certificationBy Kimaya Singh

How important is philosophy in a yoga certification course? Yoga teachers should know the history and philosophy of yogic practices. Patanjali – whose teaching led to the codification of the Eight Limbs – taught that a yoga practice includes a dedication towards truthfulness. Even students who practice yoga training for athletic of physical reasons find that eventually yoga leads them to deepen their spiritual and ethical practices due to the lessons that they learn on the mat.

Patanjali broke his teachings, the Eight Limbs of yoga, down into Yamas (ethical teachings) and Niyamas. The Yamas deal with how we use our personal energy to deal with the world around us and those we interact with. The concept of Satya, or commitment to truthfulness, is one of the fundamental Yamas. This dedication includes being genuine, sincere and honest with other persons, regardless of their station in life. It also ask practitioners to follow a path of being considerate to others needs and feelings.

Many times students ask if this means that we should always speak the truth. Or if there is room for what we commonly refer to as white lies. Others want to know if the “sin of omission” is something that yogis should never practice. Satya teaches that if something we say could hurt another, we should refrain from saying it. That may place students into ethical quandaries, but if we try to live with Ahisma (being considerate and seeking to do no harm to any living thing), we will find a way to resolve this conflict within ourselves. Satya teaches us that we must ground all of our relationships within honest communication, and refrain from any action that deceives or harms others.

One way that yoga teachers can help students train “truthfulness” is in being honest with our physical limitations. Too often, beginning practitioners try to push past their body’s limits to try a pose or modification that is too difficult for them or could do them harm. If a student wants to be truthful, he or she will accept that their body is not designed to perform a particular pose, such as Crow, or at least they are not ready yet. Satya is an effective way to keep students from trying to be competitive and push themselves past their known limits. It teaches them to be honest within their own body while working with it and honoring it.

Satya, or truthfulness is a concept that encourages students to develop honest both within themselves and with the world around them. While it may seem to contain contradictions, when used with other concepts such as Ashima, it can be a useful compass in our practice and our actions.

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