The Yama’s are Yoga’s ethical restraints, or disciplines. They’re the first of eight limbs along the path of Yoga, which is considered an entire way of life. Most people are aware of the first five Yamas, with the additional five being lesser known. The term Yama can be interpreted in a variety of ways such as, ‘moral restraint,’ ‘to rein in,’ ‘to curb,’ or an ‘ethical duty.’ The first mention of the Yamas is in the Rigveda (verse 5.61.2) and is mentioned again in the Jain Agamas.
Many times, these guidelines can be misinterpreted or misunderstood and are incorrectly applied because we don’t have a modern day interpretation for these ancient teachings. Read my personal insights below…
The first one is Ahimsa, which we can loosely interpret as non-harming.
Draw attention to ways your inner self is not so different from the inner self of others.
From this place of seeing, the urge to harm others, on any level, is weakened. It’s said when this Yama is mastered that an inner confidence emerges that is deep seated and powerful.
When we work from the inside, out, or get to the root of the issue (in this case, harming others or yourself), we can potentially create lasting change. This is different from simply imposing a set of rules and guidelines that may or may not feel relevant to you or cause you stuff down or ignore feelings.
The second Yama is Satya.
Truthfulness. Perhaps my favorite one.
I so desperately wanted to tell the truth years back, but I had so much fear and so many other negative emotions, that this ethical discipline felt impossible. I was living a double life and had no clue how to end the cycle.
The Yoga (off the mat) here is to take time to reflect on these negative emotions and determine the root of them. When we get to this point, truth telling comes naturally.
Add in a bit of discernment with this one; sometimes sharing the truth can be hurtful (which goes against the first Yama of ahimsa, or non-harming). Be sure your words are delivered in the way you mean them and with clarity and compassion.
When I don’t feel at home in my life and my body, I have the urge to ‘steal’ from another. When I don’t feel settled or like I have enough, I have the urge to ‘steal.’
The third Yama is Asteya. Steya means stealing and the ‘A’ in front negates it.
Taken literally it means to not steal property, etc that isn’t yours.
But, how often do we steal throughout the day? Someone’s time? Energy?
An easy solution is to give. Give money if that’s all you have. Better yet, give someone your time. Your attention. Share your food. When we feel unhappy, incomplete, or envious, the urge to steal (perhaps an idea that isn’t ours?) arises because it doesn’t feel good sit and feel these feelings.
A Yogini or Yogi will examine his or her assumptions, beliefs, and actions and the revelation of what is seen will lead her back to right relationship with others.
The next Yama is all about walking in 'God-consciousness.'
Sooooooo... this is a tall order. What the heck does this even mean?!
For me, it means noticing what inputs into my field. In other words, what type of energy, in the form of music, people, food, conversations, etc., I surround myself with. Everything is energy. When this can be felt, understood, or even experienced, then we become aware of how, and in what way, the things in our life affect us.
Now, I'd say I'm a bit of an expert in this area because for a long time I PURPOSEFULLY put negative things in my field. For me, this was logical since I not only felt bad, but thought that I was bad. I had internalized what modern day society says about women and people of my socio-economic ranking. I'd also internalized a lot of really sad and unfortunate things that had 'happened to me' over the years. Because I didn't have the proper tools to process, much less cope, with these things, they became my identity. When you feel bad, you crave more bad.
These days, I'm leaning toward more purity and am able to stabilize in being more sattvic. The more I unveil the false aspects of myself (which is basically everything except pure gold), the more I'm able to adhere to this Yama (and not feel bad and punish myself for not practicing it).
OH! and the Yama is known as Brahmacharya which many people translate as sexual abstinence. This is a pretty severe and harsh interpretation that comes through a specific patriarchal lineage. More useful is to observe how energy affects you and then decide the best course of action for yourself, based on the goals, purpose, and priorities of your incarnation. Do you see a theme here?
The fifth Yama called Aparigraha. I like to think of it simply as ‘staying in your own lane.’ The most popular interpretation is ‘non-possiveness.’
I feel like a literal queen when I get this one down (because, let’s face it, it comes and goes). Basically, it takes a deep acceptance to be with who you are, where are you, what you are, and what you have. It takes a deep acceptance to observe another’s success, material goods, internal and external accomplishments and not compare it to your own life *in any way.* See what I mean... *queenhood.*
If you’re like the me from a few years ago, you definitely don’t use the word abundance in your vocabulary. There isn’t enough and you are most certainly not enough. Something deep within me shifted and I woke up to the fact that I’m always going to be okay. I’m always going to have enough (What is enough, anyway?). End of story.
When this truth is realized, accepted, and integrated into ones life, the practice of Aparigraha is a breeze. Why would I want to possess anything when I already reside in the fact that I have exactly what I need, when I need it?
To practice this Yama in a more practical way (in case I lost or offended you on that last point), try taking a look at what physical items you keep around you, ‘just in case.’ Take a look at how tightly how hold on to past images of yourself. Or how you hold on to stories or resentments.
Let that ish go. Be a queen.
Contemplate on not being in complete control of your external world. Everything you need is inside of you 🌟
Can you relate to any of these? Which ones do you struggle with? Does anything I wrote not make sense to you?
If this inspires you, please share <3 #theessenceofgold