Yama, the first of the eight limbs of Yoga, are the universal moral commandments.

It outlines the ethical disciplines a yogi needs to obey so that the world is free from violence, untruth, stealing, dissipation and covetousness.

Yama consists of the following:

Ahimsa means non-violence or non-injury to one self or others so as to bring love to all. Ahimsa relates more to the state of mind. With Ahimsa, one can be free from anger and fear. Without anger, one will not react in such a way that causes hurt to others and one self.
One can be a vegetarian, and being non-violent to animals. However, if this person retaliates when provoked, there is no Ahimsa in his/her state of mind. Therefore, he/she is not practising Ahimsa.

Satya means truthfulness- non-telling of lies and living the truth. When a yogi thinks, speaks and acts with truthfulness, he/she can lead of life of truthfulness. When one value truthfulness, he/she will think of the truth only; he/she will speak the truth and act accordingly. Such person will be viewed by others as one with integrity. When such person speaks, people believe in him/her. When one’s thought, speech and action are not aligned, doubt often prevails in others.

Asetya means non-stealing behaviour, non-covetedness, freeing oneself from jealous instincts. When one sees others’ possession, he/she often gets a tinge of jealousy and starts craving for what they lack. In order to satisfy his/her craving, he/she may resort to steal. In the modern world, it can be deception or equivalent. When he/she steals, there is breach of trust. A yogi who is free from craving, does not succumb to covet possession. He/she strives to free oneself from jealousy. Hence, he/she can claim to observe the discipline of Asetya.

Brahmacharya means living like a God/Brahma, transforming of the sexual energy, establishing oneself in non-duality such that all possible pervertions are released and gaining vitality and energy in return. In short, it means treating people in the way God will treat them. Pratanjali stresses on continence of the body, speech and mind. When yogi practices brahmacharya, he/she can restrain his senses and can use the energy developed wisely. At the same time, he/she develops courageous mind and powerful intellect. He/she treats all beings with universal love with non duality, without personal perception of the beings.

Aparigraha means non-possession of anything that results in suffering for someone else, abstension from greed and non-possessiveness. One shall not take things that one does not require. One shall not take anything without working for it or as a favour from others. When one keeps taking favour from others, people will view such person as a greedy and lazy person. By consistently receiving favours or taking more than he/she requires, such person may be develop laziness and greediness as he/she can gain what he/she desires without effort. By practicing aparigraha, the yogi trains his/her mind not to feel a sense of loss or lack for anything.

200 hrs YTTC Nov/Dec 2014