Yoga Lingo

Eight Limbs of Yoga - Yamas Explained

Posted on 2018-09-15

Amongst the eight limbs of yoga, yamas are the first. They give spiritual, ethical and moral guidelines for a person who wants to achieve balance, health, and wellbeing that can help you to achieve spiritual development. In his yoga philosophy, Patanjali described the Yamas as the strong, universal and great vows. He further said that yogis should practice them on all levels, and incorporate them into their yoga poses. That is, through words, actions, and thoughts. These assist us to cleanse our nature and develops a happier and healthier society.

Many yoga teachers emphasize the five yamas during yoga practices since they promote ethical living and give the yogis moral codes to follow in their daily life.

According to the yoga sutras of Patanjali, Yamas are not restricted to one place, time, or class. They are good for your yoga therapy and you can practice them anywhere. Primarily, yamas help us to be aware of the world surrounding us and how we interact with it. Let’s look at the five yamas and how we can practice them.

Ahimsa – Non-Violence

This is the highest-ranking Yama, and it means total kindnesses towards people and yourself. Ahimsa helps you not to harm yourself or other living creatures. It emphasizes the practice of non-violence or non-harming. Ahimsa gives you the key to maintaining a tranquil inner life as well as harmonious relationships.

This Yama comes naturally through regular practices of yoga. As you practice this Yama, you become more aware of the peaceful and long-lasting core of your true nature. It also gives you the aspiration to prevent harm from happening to yourself and the people around you. Ahimsa will help you recognize that the inner-self in other people is similar to your inner-self, and you do not wish any harm to anyone.

  • Ahimsa practice tip: always practice being kind, forgiving and accepting of others and yourself. By embracing ahimsa fully, you get a compelling and deep-seated inner confidence.

Satya – Truthfulness

Satya encourages us to speak the truth and always to live a “truthful life”. This Yama encourages us to be honest, both to ourselves and to the people around us. By its nature, truth can be “terrifying,” and it often leads us to think that we might hurt our friends by being truthful. However, being untruthful can cause more harm to our loved ones and us too. Satya helps us to learn how to deliver the truth with compassion and care.

  • Satya practice tip: learn how to identify the fears and negative feelings that force you to twist reality. When you understand and process these fears, you get to realign your actions, speech, and thoughts with truth. This will always happen as you focus on your desires and needs.

Asteya – Non-Stealing

“Stealing” is acquiring anything that is not given to you freely, and this does not imply stealing possessions or money from someone else. However, how frequently do you “steal” someone else's time, or try to persuade them to do things that they are not comfortable to do? Do you ask for a person’s attention when they don’t want to give it freely to you?

Asteya helps us to nurture the feeling of abundance in our lives, and realize that we have everything we need. As a result, it makes us appreciate the things that we have, and avoid taking what doesn’t belong to us.

  • Asteya practice tip: mostly, the desire to steal comes from unhappiness, envy, incompleteness. However, the solution to this is to give whenever you get the opportunity. Give time, give money, provide food. Because wealth is a state of mind, you start feeling as wealthy as you give. Selfless giving brings the feeling of inner wealth, which can lead to our outer wealth.

Brahmacharya – Sense of Control

This Yama is mostly interested as abstinence from sexual activities or celibacy. This means that should always monitor how we utilize our sexual energy, and we should never use our sexual energy to harm others or ourselves.

  • Brahmacharya practice tip:  always choose wisely the magazines and books you read, the friends you hang around and the movies you watch. These can assist you to conserve your energy, as well as keep your body and mind dynamic and focused. This Yama will help you to be moderate on all sexual activities. As a result, you abstain from dwelling on them and remaining faithful and committed to one person.

Aparigraha – Non-Coveting

Holding on to things prevents you from being free. It doesn't mean material possessions only. But it also means “holding” on to concepts and ideas that you have about life, yourself and your personalities, and the events in your daily life.

Realizing that your life develops and changes on a regular basis, you will learn how to develop and improve with it. Then you will be able to flow freely with life. Aparigraha teaches you to trust the universe to give you whatever you need in life.

  • Aparigraha practice tip: scrutinize your inclinations towards possessiveness. Is it that you always take care of something that you possess that one that belongs to another person? Do you obtain more than you need? Practicing non-possessiveness assists you to examine your assumptions. This, in turn, guides you to a healthy relationship with other people.

Practicing the yamas every day can help you to achieve peace and balance of mind. These yamas are the perfect foundation for a peaceful and long-lasting foundation with your true self and those around you. So, live the yamas and have a peaceful and meaningful life.

This is first of eight limbs of yoga explained in this Yogateket-wiki series next will be about the Niamas. Do you want an overview of the limbs? Check out The 8 Limbs Of Yoga Explained

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