The 5 tenets of Yama, and what it means to me

  1. Ahimsa (compassion for all living things): As I attempt to practise Ahimsa, both on myself and others, I will observe my thoughts and try not to judge others. Before practising yoga, or learning about Yama, it’s very common to inflict harm upon others/ourselves through our thoughts and actions. The main way to counter it is to replace judgements with compassion, to displace fears with courage, and to be willing to forgive others if any mistakes are made. In practising Ahimsa, I am able to accept myself and let my true authentic self shine through without the fear of being judged. In turn, I accept others the way they are and not impose my expectations on how they are supposed to behave. This is also one of the reasons why I’ve decided to stop consuming meat because killing an animal in exchange for food, is an act of violence.
  2. Satya (truthfulness): I definitely used to lie a lot and not keep up with my words. It was unsettling and it felt like my life was a mess. I have come to understand that my perception of truth is filtered through my experiences, and I have to see beyond that in order to understand that not all things I perceive as truth is the truth. Also, I try my best now to uphold honesty and uphold the promises I make.
  3. Asteya (non stealing): We tend to covet and crave for things that others have that which are not rightfully ours. To counter this, it is very important to appreciate and be grateful for what we have and really listen to what our soul truly needs. In doing so, we realise that what others have are not what we want and not what we need. We are already sufficient in our own ways.
  4. Brahmacharya (establishing oneself in non duality or lead by example): In the context of living in a city, brahmacharya would mean the mindful use of sexual energy because sex can exists in anger/violence and other forms of ahimsa. This translates to respecting ourselves and our partner in a relationship.
  5. Aparigraha (non-possession of anything): This tenet of non-possession also resonates with practices of minimalism. At the start of this year, I’ve decided to reduce the amount of materialistic possessions I have (eg. clothes, bags, shoes) because I felt like there was no need for so many things. After which, it was easier to be non-possessive in other parts of my life, like my relationships. The practice of letting go to my attachments makes me contented with what I already have and to realise that materialistic possessions are not essential to happiness (which is often the pandemic of the modern age).

Written by: HT