In March 2012, the Challenge of the Week – the call to live yoga – was focused on the Yamas.
The Yamas are ethical precepts in the Yoga Sutras based on our social codes of conduct. The Yamas relate to the attitude we have towards things and people outside of ourselves – how we behave towards others.
Their are five Yamas, five ‘wise characteristics’ to imbibe. Rather than see the Yamas as a list of do’s and don’ts, see and experience the Yamas as a reminder that our true nature is compassionate, generous, honest and peaceful.
1. Ahimsa (non-violence, compassion for all living things)
Literally, ahimsa means to not injure or show cruelty in any way. Ahimsa reminds us to practice kindness, to have thoughtful consideration towards all people, all things and work cooperatively with others in a manner that is not harmful. We work to manage our expression of negative emotions to avoid emotional harm to others.
2. Satya (commitment to truthfulness and honesty in thought, word and deed)
Satya means to speak the truth. It is also important to be aware if truthfulness can harm someone unnecessarily. In Satya, we are mindful of what we say, how we say it and how it could possibly affect others. In practicing Satya, it is important to add a level of discrimination – would speaking the truth have negative consequences or harm someone? If so, then we must use our discrimination to either speak the truth or say nothing. Satya is also our search for truth, meaning and purpose in life.
3. Asteya (non-stealing)
In practicing Asteya, we commit to only accept that which is freely offered and given and to refrain from taking what does not belong to us. This includes taking only when permission is given to do so. On a deeper level, we can practice asteya by being content with what comes to us by honest means and moderation in what is freely offered.
4. Aparigraha (non-possessiveness)
To practice Aparigraha, we notice what we cling to or are possessive of. Are we grasping to how we think things or people should be and how we want them to be? Sometimes it is this grasping and clinging to things, people and ideas that can cause our suffering. As we begin to let go of this grasping which restricts us to a very limited sense of who we are, we begin to let go of that which holds us back in living a life of ease.
5. Brahmacharya (sense control)
Brahma = Divinity/Supreme Consciousness
Charya = to follow
In practicing brahmacharya, we make the effort to see Divinity around us, connect to our Higher Mind and live a virtuous way of life. As we continue to practice brahmacharya, we may notice that we begin to abstain from overloading our senses and desires.
As we continue to practice the Yamas, we contribute to our own health and happiness and the health and happiness of the world around us.
Hari Om Tat Sat
© Copyright 2012 – All Elements Yoga – Gail Seckrettar