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yogi’s guide to public health: satya

Patanjali’s second instruction on the path of yoga is satya, or truth telling. One of the more comprehensive translations of satya we’ve heard also includes: not giving any impression other than that which you believe to be true.

Satya builds upon the compassionate spirit of ahimsa. We tell the truth out of concern for others. As COVID-19 persists, how can we practice truthfulness?

As yogis or simply as humans living in community, we trust that you know to tell the medical truth — to speak up about:

your symptoms. Are you feeling sick? Even if you aren’t infected with COVID-19, being sick at this time compromises your immune system and makes you more susceptible to the virus. Tell the people you spend time with (your family, your employer, etc). Follow the advice of the CDC and tell your doctor.

 your exposure. Is it possible that you or someone in your workplace or household has had contact with an infected person? Again, tell your doctor.

 your concerns. Share your feelings with friends and family. This is an anxious time. Sharing your honest feelings of uncertainty, confusion, frustration — whatever you feel — is a good way to build community. We need the emotional bonds of support and connection now more than ever, even if from a safe social distance.

Telling the truth about our symptoms, exposure and emotional state(s) helps keep everyone healthy and informed. We certainly don’t know everything about COVID-19 at this point, but we do know that deception and misinformation only create more disease.

Truth telling is hard. Especially in the conversations we have with ourselves about making decisions in these challenging, unprecedented times. The choices required to “flatten the curve” of the outbreak are inconvenient. And it’s tempting to justify convenience as “self-care.” While we don’t want to downplay the importance of personal boundaries, there’s a time — and this appears to be it — to sacrifice for the greater good. 

Yes, it’s difficult to be “stuck” at home — especially with kids.
Yes, it’s frustrating to compromise your yoga schedule.
Yes, it’s disappointing to miss social events.

But be honest, how would it feel to know​ you contributed to others getting sick? And conversely, how would it feel to know you’re taking all the steps you can to keep others safe?

There’s our answer.

If you missed our first installment of the Yogi’s Guide to Public Health, read it here.