To practise Yama, it means to be truthful to self and not cheating yourself of the benefits reaped from the pose and not using other fellow yogi’s standard as our own benchmark. Imagine yourself doing this pose – a headstand – your body is in an inverted position with legs, torso and head in line. How long do you think you can hold yourself in that position? Perhaps the first question will be the possibility of getting your body up with your forearms bearing your full body weight. Though it looks easy, it still requires a lot of strength and mental endurance within the self. Therefore should you be holding yourself in that pose to the best of your ability, one will be practising Yama.
Yogis are also supposed to take care of their body but keeping not only the physical body but their mental mind clean too. Clean mental mind means no evil or vulgar thoughts which will also be manifested through one’s actions and choice of words. On top of that, overcoming the temptations to miss a practice or by letting one’s mind wander off while executing a pose. By taking care of the self, being aware of one’s speech, thoughts and body, one is practising Niyama.
Thirdly Asanas are practiced by consistently working on the poses till all are executed steadily and comfortably. While executing the asanas, one’s mind and body should be in harmony and at ease. Through asanas, Yogis learn to train the mind to be free of thoughts and to be able to tune out any discomfort or tiredness felt by the physical body.
Fourth is Pranayama. As defined in the Sanskrit glossary terms of yoga, Pranayama is a series of techniques using the breath to control the flow of vital energy within the body. Using various breathing methods like Ujjayi (aka Victorious Breath) and Kapalabhati, yogis uses these various techniques to either help them ease into the asanas or to raise energy and centering it to the neo frontal cortex so as to clear the mind.
Hence the next time when you are in a yoga class, be mindful that every asana is not just about the movement. It is also a time for yourself to practise the first 4 limbs of yoga. Make the best out of every class and see yourself improve over time.
200 hr YTT weekday Sept 2015