Honesty

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While practicing utkatasana (fierce or chair pose) it seemed like the kids in class were unchallenged. "Is this easy for you," I asked. With a giggle and sheepish smile, they said yes. After a few adjustments to their alignment and a slightly longer hold, they moaned, "this is so hard."

Later in the practice, when in virabhadrasana II (warrior II) I again asked if the pose was easy. This time, before answering, they paused, looked at each, and remained quiet.

"You don't know how to answer," I said laughing. "If you say it's easy, you know it's going to get harder, but you also don't want to lie."

The yamas, or ethical disciplines, are the first limb of yoga, and satya, truth, is one of these disciplines. Truth is at the core of asana practice for students of all ages. If we are dishonest with ourselves about our experience of an asana, how can we learn from it? If it is unchallenging, how can there be growth? The appearance of the asana and whether or not it is "fully expressed" isn't important. The important part is the effort and perseverance put into the practice. This requires us to be honest with ourselves, admitting when something is too easy, but also admitting when something might be too hard at a particular time and place. It is a practice that extends far beyond the mat.        

Josh Paul