Sucking and Swallowing the Hard Truth

Published 11, Oct, 2012
Author // Daniel Uy

Taking stock. Daniel Uy is living out of Peterborough now, and thinking about when to say no, hearing the truth and reaching one’s own potential..

Sucking and Swallowing the Hard Truth

I step back, try not to gag and start to relax and swallow it down by asking myself “Ok.  Is there any truth in this?” 

So lately in life I have had to make a few huge changes.  I am no longer an urban yogi anymore, but more of a country boy.  For the past few weeks I have been living out of Peterborough, Ontario on a more permanent basis teaching FT there at a yoga studio and still finding time to be in my place in the city (Toronto) for a few days.  The commuting back and forth is insane, crazy and a bit unrealistic but so far the meshing of the two worlds is a whole new experience that I am totally enjoying...for the most part. 

The hardest thing to saying “Yes” to all these amazing students and people in Peterborough was having to say “No” to all my students, friends, family and life here in Toronto.  As I write this I am doing laundry, making dinner and packing my backpack for my next trek back out to “the Patch”.  Letting my students know I would not be with them for a few months was quite hard.  I mean it’s just my job and I teach many classes a week but it occurred to me that I have become a regular fixture in people’s lives.  My job and my life have meaning and purpose and I hope it helps and uplifts the people I come into contact with.

Having said that, I am not going to be everyone’s cup of tea!  In saying no to a few of my classes in Toronto temporarily, I have had to find teachers to take them over for me and entrust the lives and practices of my students to others and hope they lead them in a similar path of deepening their yoga practice and their lives with hope. 

So you can understand then why when I came in to teach one of the few classes in the city I was devastated by the news that one of the substitute teachers told that the class one day that only a few of them were intermediate (ie good enough) to do a specific posture and the rest of them weren’t so they weren’t allowed to participate.  It’s a posture that I actually taught them every week and they did it with excellence.  This teacher, however, told them that the way they did it was wrong and they weren’t at the level of even trying to attempt it. 

Now this kind of thing happens often.   In yoga and in life, we are told we aren’t allowed to do this or can’t do that and given reasons to support those beliefs.  However when it comes to something physical, emotional, spiritual – something that touches people at the core, if you tell people “NO”, you rob them of the opportunity to grow.  There is such incredible power and strength that can be drawn from the word “Maybe”.  Maybe brings hope.  Maybe says that if you keep trying and working and sweating and practicing, then who knows.  Maybe has potential to be more than a No.  A No is a closed door.  Maybe is a door opened a slight crack.  Who knows what the winds of change will blow through that door? 

I think when I first hit the yoga mat years ago I don’t think my teachers looked at me and said “there’s the next senior teacher we are going to hire and have work here” but I also don’t think they ever said to me “he’s never going to be able to do this”.  It’s quite possible though that there are many postures I may never be able to do to perfection.  I may never have a front page Yoga Journal pose down to a T with a giant smile on my face saying “Look at me!  Look how amazing physically I am doing this unbelievable posture and doing it with a smile on my face!”  But if my teachers ever told me No, they would not have been my teachers for long. 

In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Yamas are the first of the eight limbs of Yoga.  It is made up of five observances.  The second one is called Satya.  Satya means truthfulness or right communication through speech, writings, gesture and actions.  I like to think of it as the absence of falsehood.  As in looking at life, words, feelings and removing everything that isn’t true for you.  Once you eliminate all the untrue, or things that feel untrue for you in that moment, then whatever you are left with should be embraced. 

Truth is a funny thing though.  People love to say they are honest people and then go about speaking their truth wherever and whenever they wish.  And this is part of it.  Being truthful is incredibly important and I am all for that.  However, and this is why I love the yoga sutras so much, it was only second.  There was one guiding principle that came before this.  That was Ahimsa.  Ahimsa means non-harming.  A beautiful description by TKV Desikachar is the “consideration for all living things, especially those who are innocent, in difficulty, or worse off than we are”.  That is powerful.  Essentially if I was speaking my truth and not considering how that may affect others, I’m hurting them.  

This is why this No to my students hit me so hard.  Maybe some people in life may never be that flexible, maybe some may never get into Birds of Paradise or maybe I will never get into Marichyasana D again even if it kills me to try, but to rob someone of the possibility is abusive.  Sure I may suck.  I may even f*ck up sometimes, but that does not mean I will always be like that.  We are who we are today - neither good, nor bad.  It just is.  The great and incredible potential is that if I attempt things and work and grow and try to move on a path of guiding principles in my life, that maybe, just maybe, I can be more than the sum of my parts.  I can be more than a disease.  More than a fat kid.  More than a half breed bastard child. The power of yoga is the ability to free people and give them the power of hope.  The power of Maybe. 

In life and in teaching I have made many of these similar mistakes.  I have been and continued to be flawed and human.  I can say for certainty though that I am doing less now than I was before.  As I try and practice this.  To restrain my advice to only being asked for – to not commenting fully on all things, I have found a kinder balance in life.  Even in receiving feedback that I may have asked for and stung a little to hear, I step back, try not to gag and start to relax and swallow it down by asking myself “Ok.  Is there any truth in this?  It’s a tough call.  Hearing the truth hurts.  As a friend of mine recently told me, if we are fearful, we go on the defensive and if the truth makes us angry, we go on the offensive.  And it’s so true how the truth works like that.  It’s like Buckley’s at times, it taste awful, but does help heal over time. 

It is my great hope that if you are struggling right now, working at something and it feels like it’s an impossible task, perhaps it’s something that someone or somebody in the world is telling you No,  that you have come to this point and cannot and will not go further.  I say turn your gaze toward your goal and go for it! If you run fast enough towards it, their words from the sidelines only sound like buzzing bees.  And hey if you can’t run, crawl!  Maybe even lay, flip onto your belly and put one forearm in front of the other and keep moving towards your prize. It may take time. It may take consistency.  But it’s worth it. I want to tell you that you can do it.  That it is possible;  that there exists a place in this Universe for you exactly as you are.  I welcome you to be a part of that place even though the outside world you are currently in does not.


About the Author

Daniel Uy

Daniel Uy

Daniel Uy is a Toronto-based Yoga Teacher. He teaches several different styles of yoga throughout the city and more information about his work can be found on He is also a full-time anthropology student.  He has been HIV+ since 1997 at the ripe old age of 21yrs old. He has a light-hearted approach to life. 

He shares stories and information on health, wellness, spirituality and humanity.