Yamas

2. Choose any part from the Ashtanga Yoga (8 limbs)
Shedding a light on the first step of the Raja Yoga = Yamas

The first step of Raja Yoga , Yama, is standing for Restraints is standing at the beginning and incorporate the first step of reaching the mind and body liberation.
Yamas as Restraint, and its complement, Niyamas (Observation), represent a series of “right living” or ethical rules within Hinduism and Yoga. These are a form of moral imperatives, commandments, rules or goals. Every religion has a code of conduct, or series of “do’s and don’ts”, and the Yamas represent one of the “don’t” lists within Hinduism, and specifically, Raja Yoga. This does not mean that Yoga is religious, yoga and Hinduism just using the same philosophy and the way of living for the same target, to reach soul and mind liberation.

Yama literally means “death” in Sanskrit and represents and can be understood as as conduct for living to bring a compassionate death to the ego or “to lower self”. The yamas comprise the “shall-not” in our dealings with the external world as the Niyamas comprise the “shall-do” in our dealings with the inner world.
Yamas consists of five parts, as a kind of five directives in behavioral norms as prerequisites for elimination of fear, and contribute to a tranquil mind and lower the ego down:

Ahimsa (non-violence, perfect harmlessness, as well as positive love), this includes any violence against an object as well as humans, it can be understood as perception of anything without any judge
Satya (truthfulness, telling and living the truth), this is often misunderstood since people are saying this only includes not to tell lies to others, Satya focus on the truth to somebody himself
Brahmacharya (sexual abstinence unless intentionally procreating), this does not mean that somebody has to deny any pleasure but enjoy it in the moderate way and don’t abuse sexual energy into any aggressive manner, since the sexual energy is underlying the same energy that is creating violence and force
Asteya (non-stealing), this does mean liberation of any comparison with others and focusing on the self-development
Aparigraha (non-greed and non-possessing), that means to loose the fear from “loosing” and the need of possess and material prosperity

From a student point of view it makes absolutely sense to start with restraint at the first step to be prepared for the second step, the observation. It doesn’t mind whether the student is going to learn about meditation, pranayama, asanas or doing a mantra. At the beginning the mind has to be set free of any constraints and doubts to make it open for the judgeless observation and to set a seed for liberate self-realization.

By Martina Klenk