You may have heard about Yamas in yoga class, but you may not have had the chance to delve into the ancient philosophy behind them. If you are new to The Yoga Sutras, it is one of the seminal texts on yoga philosophy, written thousands of years ago. It is a practical guidebook for living a fulfilled, positive life. The credited author, Patanjali, outlines the eight-limbed path of yoga, Yamas, Niyamas, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. The path is simple, yet not easy.
What are Yamas? They are considered the five moral restraints or your attitudes and behaviors. This ethical compass encourages us to examine our patterns, habits, and how we treat ourselves and others. Don’t look at the Yamas as concrete rules because none of us are perfect; consider them fluid guidelines to incorporate into your life.
1. Everyday Yamas: Ahimsa: Ahimsa translates to the absence of or freedom from harm, judgment or violence. Often, we are harsh and judgmental with ourselves and by extension, treat others in a detrimental manner. Cultivating a compassionate, loving, understanding, patient attitude toward yourself and others is the key to ahimsa.
2. Everyday Yamas: Satya: Satya is truthfulness in thought, word, and deed. Truthfulness needs to be balanced by kindness and mindful expression. When we are authentically living in our own truth, we are in harmony with the universe and everything surrounding us. Working toward loving communications, non-judgment, and honesty will create a life of ease and flow.
3. Everyday Yamas: Aparigraha: Aparigraha is the freedom from hoarding or collecting. When you operate from a place of scarcity, you can be greedy with your feelings, your actions, and your belongings. Remind yourself that abundance exists for everyone. Learn to trust the wealth of the universe and only utilize what you need in the moment. It takes practice to release attachment to possessions and even people. You can do it!
4. Everyday Yamas: Asteya: Asteya translates to freedom from stealing. Like all the other Yamas, this principle transcends simple appropriation of a tangible item. It’s the concept of becoming free from cravings for wealth, power, possessions, and attachment to outcomes. Also, Asteya reminds us to respect other people’s time and energy. Don’t be an energy vampire! Cultivate a sense of completion from within.
5. Everyday Yamas: Bramacharya: Bramacharya translates to moderation. It’s one of the most misunderstood tenets in yoga philosophy. Often, it is translated into a life of celibacy and religious study; however, most yogis are householders and live in modern society. Instead, strive toward moderation and balance in all matters. Your own restraint and moderation are key to your personal growth.
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