Yoga is fast becoming a popular workout choice amongst urban dwellers. People turn to yoga to calm their mind and work on their fitness.
Understanding the 5 Yamas as yoga philosophy basics will help to ground the practice and transform negative energy, allowing people to achieve inner peace eventually. Here is a brief definition of each yama, along with some advice about how to start practicing them today.
1. Non violence (Ahimsa)
Ahimsa is the first of the yamas and forms the foundation when we are practising yoga. Violence comes in the form of physical, mental or spiritual. To practise non-violence in all aspects is the key to achieving balance within ourselves and building harmonious relationships.
Practice Tip: Know where your body’s limits are- do not be physically violent to yourself by pushing yourself into an asana pose when the body is resisting. Take note to remove your own mental violence such as telling yourself you’re not good enough.
2. Truthfulness (Satya)
Satya is being genuine and truthful in your actions and words. To be effective in sending truthful messages, we have to detach our feelings and employ different communication techniques.
Practice Tip: Learn to recognise the feelings or fears experienced in your yoga practice. Once you’re aware of your feelings, you can remove them as they distort the reality. Thus, your thoughts, actions and words will resonate with the truth.
Refrain from lying about your body conditions, especially to your instructors as it might cause you injuries and affect the effectiveness of your practice.
3. Non-Stealing (Asteya)
Asteya requires the person to not steal from himself. This translates into not losing or cheating yourself. This yama will free you from jealousy instincts as such non-theft attitude will not push you to yearn to possess what others have.
Practice Tip: Do not be wavered about yourself when you’re faced with compliments or criticisms. If you’re good in your yoga practice, do not get overconfident and let your ego takes over.
4. Living like a God (Brahmacharya)
To practise brahmacharya implies having a god-like conscious and moderating your senses such that all sexual energy is transformed, all possible pervertions are released to gain new energy.
Practice Tip: Be conscious of the food you eat, books you read and company you keep as these lifestyle choices will affect your mind and focus. Avoid any suppression of your desires, moderate sensual activities and spare energy is transformed.
5. Non-Possessiveness (Aparigraha)
Avoid being greedy and wanting to possess more in material gains or non-material forms. This will lead to fundamental issues and can destroy a yogic experience.
Practice Tip: Practising non-possessiveness requires us to reexamine our obsessions and relationships. This introspection will allow us to build and maintain healthy relationships.
Without possessiveness, there are no imbalances in one’s life. He or she will then be able to focus on looking inwards to the own soul and submit totally to the present moment.
– Sinyi on yoga philosophy (200hr YTTC/HathaAshtanga/Weekday/19Jun)