The Yogic Yamas

Did you know that getting on your yoga mat to move your body physically is barely practicing yoga at all? In fact, it's just 1/8 and number 3 on the list of yoga's actual lineage intention in being a life science. Number 1 on the list, according to deeply honoured sage, Patanjali, is your yamas: translating from Sanskrit to mean social restraints of external disciplines.  

Yoga is a path to the inner world, that starts through outer perception. To practice yoga as an all encompassing approach to life, not just jumping on your mat a couple of times a week, is to practice spirituality in a scientific way. As we explore our own personal eco systems through yoga, we become more mindful of its interrelation to not only others’ eco-systems, but also the planet’s. And without awareness of any spiritual dimensions of life, we are living impoverished lives. The more we can incorporate the virtues of curiosity, consideration and appreciation into our yoga and indeed our life, the more space there is for divine wisdom to make itself known.

One of the first steps in using yoga as a tool to enrich your life is to understand more about yoga philosophy's yamas, the official first step on the path. Here is our mini and memorable mantra based guide to using yoga's social restraints (the yamas) and how following this part of yoga’s ancient linage can and will enhance your relationship with the external world. 

Ahimsa: non-violence

Implanting an attitude of non-violence into yours life obviously extends further than physically being violent, for example ahimsa encapsulates choosing to be vegetarian or vegan as this diet reduces violence on other beings. Ahimsa could also mean moderating an argumentative nature and being more mindful with words and decorum. When triggered by violence, consider the mantra: "I live in a way that cultivates peace, with great virtue."

Satya: truthfulness

Here’s an obvious one: don’t lie. Satya teaches us not to tolerate lies: don’t lie to yourself, don’t lie to others, don’t fabricate false webs of reality that endanger truth. Be truthful in your words and even the smallest of intentions, we can all easily and beautifully invite more truthfulness into our lives. Truth is one of humanity’s greatest virtues. Mantra: "I am honest in my words and actions. Standing in my truth, I am empowered."

Asteya: non-stealing

This yama can extend from the obvious avoidance of literal theft, to a different guise of theft under that of taking other people’s ideas for your own, or even stealing another’s thunder, so to speak. Asteya implores is to consult our inner resource and realise the fountain of bounty that we all inherently contain, of ideas, love, inspiration and individuality. Asteya asks you, how can you be more authentically you? Mantra: "I act from a space of abundance, not scarcity. I have a fountain of inner resource."

Aparigraha: non-possessiveness 

Ah, covetousness. Living in a material world in a capitalist society it seems that sometimes our cultural religion is to consume. Let go. This yama can be interpreted in relationships as well, if you need to let someone go, let them go with love and grace. Mantra "I keep my desire for possessions to what is necessary. I do not covet greedily."

Brahmacharya:  celibacy / moderation 

This anti-greed attitude seeks to serve the purpose for maintaining vitality. For example brahmacharya shouldn’t necessarily inspire you to become a nun, but should induce thoughtfulness in situations when you’re tempted to over indulge, such as with food, clothes or extravagance. Also, this yama in our modern world spurs to disassociate with the disposable culture that we live in; for example, how can we appreciate slow manufacture methods rather than buy into mass production? Brahmacharya also teaches us to avoid ostentatiousness and be humble. To exercise your wants without being brash. Mantra: "I have control over my impulses of excess.”