As mentioned in a previous post – there are 8 limbs or pathways of yoga. (Yamas, Niyamas, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhanya, Samadhi). Today I want to explain more about The Yamas – which are the ethical considerations within this eightfold path. Basically some guidelines for living a good ol’ wholesome life. There are five Yamas in total, the first being –
1. AHIMSA –
in it’s most general sense it refers to “non-violence” or “non-harm”. In the obvious way AHIMSA means not walking down the street and straight up punching the next person who irritates you right in the face. The concept of “non-violence” can also refer to more subtle things such as choosing to cultivate peaceful thoughts and being mindful of the potentially negative thoughts you do think. It also means being non-harmful to the environment around you (SEE ABOVE) and making choices that helps protect and care for all life. It means being kind to yourself – in a specifically “yogi-example” this can be having patience with yourself and your body on your yoga mat ie: if your body is telling you that 300 Sun Salutations is absolutely out of the question today – you should probably listen to it.
2. SATYA –
Satya refers to truthfulness and the idea of staying true to yourself, your beliefs and living what you preach. It also encompasses being honest with yourself and accepting all your flaws and limitations. It is only through being true to ourselves and to others in the way we live our lives that brings us a true sense of freedom. And obviously, no one likes a lying yogi-pants.
Brahmacharya is the act of (sexual) moderation which can really be translated to most areas of our lives – moderation in the clothes we wear, the food we consume, the thoughts in our head and the energy we give to “fling-type” relationships. In our lives we pass through different phases of energy (read: young + wild versus mid life + peaceful) Brahmacharya focuses on acknowledging that subtle energy and reserving it where necessary.
Non-greediness. We could all do with a bit more Aparigraha in our lives. You know that feeling of walking down a shopping aisle and you see a “BUY 4 DEODORANTS and GET ONE FREE!” You didn’t really need a deodorant in the first place, but man, this way you get 5 for the price of FOUR! Into the trolley they go! Aparigraha is separating ourselves from always wanting more. It tells us to be grateful for what is here right now rather than waiting to be happy if we could juuuuust get that new car/new job/ big house/ boat/ bigger house/ (fill in the blank). The only thing you have is what you have is right now. When you DO get that new car/job/house – you will just be waiting for the even better car/job/house. Stop waiting for that. And enjoy the THIS. In everyday life, you know how it feels to do a massive clean out of your cupboards and shed all the excess crap you don’t REALLY need. Total zen.