Yamas (Sanskrit: यम), represent a series of "right living" or ethical rules within Hinduism and Yoga. It means "reining in" or "control". ... Patañjali lists five yamas in his Yoga Sūtras.
The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali are a collection of 196 Indian sutras on the theory and practice of yoga. The Yoga Sutras were compiled prior to 400 CE by Sage Patanjali who, it is said produced and organised knowledge about yoga from older traditions.
The yamas are a form of moral imperatives, commandments, rules or goals. The Yamas are the "don't do these" list of self-restraints, typically representing commitments that affect one's relations with others and self.
Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): non-harming of other living beings
Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, non-falsehood
Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing
Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): chastity, marital fidelity or sexual restraint
Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः): non-possessivenes
How can we relate to these 5 (some of them quite obscure in modern day life) yamas not only on our yoga mat but off it too?
Ahimsa - How kind are the words you say to yourself when you practice, how kind are you to your body and how kind are you to every other being you come into contact with?
Satya - Live your truth. Walk the talk. Speak from the heart. Sometimes it can feel hard knowing what your truth is and sometimes even hard expressing it. When you come to your mat it gives you time to sit still and really listen to your heart, that quiet soft voice that gives you words of encouragement rather than the doubting mind.
Asteya - Have you ever taken credit for something you didn’t do? Desire to possess and enjoy what another has, can drive a person to steal and commit breaches of trust. A desire to take what is not yours is directly related to a lack of abundance in your own life. We will all receive our portion, just remember that!
Brahmacharya: Traditionally this meant a life of celibacy for religious study, which meant self-restraint. In our modern day world, this is probably not achievable so see it more as just being mindful towards yourself and others. Be aware of the power of sexual energy, our life force, and channel it towards your life purpose and your creativity.
Aparigraha: This is quite similar to Asteya but is more about looking at what others have and trying not to feel jealous. We should feel confident and know that we ourselves are enough so that we no longer feel the need to covet what someone else has, or be what someone else is. It's easy to be in a class and compare yourself to others, we have all done it, but yoga is a practice just for you, your body and your mind and if you're always trying to be like someone else you'll never truly be happy as you aren't them and you never will be. You are you and you should celebrate that! Furthermore, this Yama is linked to not hoarding...Yogi's recommend living life as simply as possible...
Next week I'll be look at the next limb, the Niyamas from Patanjali's YogaSutras so come back soon to read more!