Last week the vinyasa yoga classes that I teach in Southampton were focused on integrity and how we build and sustain it through clarity, strength and flexibility.
Through clarity of our intention comes integrity in our action. How many times do we do something and not know why or sometimes not even know that we did it? One of the main aims of yoga is for us to learn live in the present moment with truthfulness (satya) and honesty. To do this we need to learn how to be present in all our actions to be clear and honest with ourselves and others about the intentions behind our actions.
Integrity has its Latin root in the word whole. This is not dissimilar to many translations of the word yoga meaning union to bring everything together as a whole. In yoga we have the word avidya which is like a net curtain that comes down and blocks our vision as we are unable to see the whole picture but through practise and awareness we can notice our blind spots and shine a light on them. When we aim to look at a situation in its wholeness we can choose how we react in the present moment, how we respond to the hand we are dealed.
To live with integrity both on and off the mat there are three simple things that we can try focusing on. Firstly clarity of intention, be honest about why you are doing something, if you don’t know the intention behind your action, don’t act. The second two comes as a pair, the need to be balance that of strength and flexibility. Strength of courage to speak up, to be present in every moment and speak what is in your heart and flexibility to see different perspectives and to truly try to understand another person’s point of view with an openness to change your own. All three of these can be first practised on the yoga mat and then filtered into daily living. There isn’t a yoga pose I can think of that isn’t a balance between strength and flexibility. Naturally most students start unbalanced in these two areas either strong with limited flexibility or flexible with limited strength. To have integrity in your yoga practise, to protect the body and find sustainability these two need to balance out and it is only through having a clear understanding about your intention in each pose can you work through refining the balance between strength and flexibility.
Experiment with finding integrity in your practise, be focusing on your intention and the balance between strength and flexibility.