30 Jan Patanjali’s First Limb of Yoga, the Yamas
Patanjali, the father of Yoga and author of The Yoga Sutras, created the five Yamas to be the guidelines for the practicing yogi.
They are meant to demonstrate how a yogi interacts and relates to the world around him or her.
The five yamas are: ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, and aparigraha. For more details read The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 2.30-39, to further expand on Patanjali’s teachings.
Ahimsa is the practice of non-violence towards others and oneself, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Violence is often a result of reactivity. One way to counteract violence is to focus on compassion. Compassion for yourself and for those around us. Work on replacing feelings of judgement, irritation, and anger with feelings of forgiveness, love, and patience.
Mantra for Ahimsa is “I am love.”
Satya is the practice of truthfulness. Truthfulness to others and most often forgot, ourselves. Satya urges us to speak truthfully always. Living truthfully also plays into your yoga practice. Are you going beyond your limit in an unsafe way? Satya will help you back off and find a challenging, but safe depth in asanas.
Mantra for Satya is “I live truthfully”
Asteya is the practice of non-stealing. When we think of stealing, we typically think of someone’s material possessions, but stealing can also apply to intangible things. Each of our time, energy, love, and space are just as sacred as our physical belongings. Stealing comes from wants and desires, typically lacking abundance, or trying to fill a missing gap. To counter this lacking feeling, focus on abundance.
Mantra for Asteya is “I have enough, I am enough”
Brahmacharya is the practice of continence. We have control over our own impulses of excess. Typically, most people lean towards wanting more and more pleasure, money, chocolate cake, etc., which can lead to greediness. Overcoming impulses requires courage, but results in health and strength. Brahmacharya teaches us balance and moderation.
Mantra for Brahmacharya is “I am in control”
Aparigraha is the practice of non-coveting. Letting go. Possessing only the things that we need. As yogis, we are taught that we cannot actually possess things anyways, because nothing truly belongs to us and will eventually be destroyed. When we cling to coveting things, we are no longer open to receiving.
Mantra for Aparigraha is “Let go.”