When I was first introduced to the eight limbs of raja yoga/ashtanga yoga in class, I found that the first limb, Yama, seems to be similar to the Ten Commandments. So I went to read up more about it.
Yama refers to the disappearance of all suppression. It describes five moral restrains that governs our interactions with other and they are Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya and Aparigraha.
- Ahimsa- “Non-violence”
A person who is firmly established in non-violence, all hostilities towards another will completely disappear, and suddenly love arises from the abandonment of violence. From a Christian perspective, this yama resonates strongly with Jesus’s greatest commandment- to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus did not harbor any hate or grudges on those who had betrayed him, yet He showed forgiveness. He repeatedly emphasized the need to forgive people, and to do good to everyone.
- Satya- “Truthfulness”
A person who firmly established in truthfulness, he will be living truth, he will be walking with truth and all actions will be aligned to truth. Being truthful in all things is of paramount importance in yoga but it must be balanced with Ahimsa. The commandment “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” mirrors Satya.
- Asteya- “Non-stealing, non-covertedness”
When a person is completely established in non-theft of other possessions, all treasures and ornaments appear and present itself to the person. This mirrors the commandment “You shall not steal” and “You shall not covet what belongs to your neighbour’s”.
- Brahmacharya- “Moderation”
Brahmacharya states that when we have control over our physical impulses of excess, we attain knowledge, vigor and increased energy. By practicing Brahmacharya, we can achieve balance, creating moderation in our daily activities. From a Christian perspective, the seventh commandment “You shall not commit adultery” doesn’t exactly mirror this. However, the commandment encompasses the human sexuality. The virtue of chastity comes under the fundamental virtue of abstinence and seeks to moderate the passions and appetites of the senses with reasons.
- Aparigraha- “Non-possessiveness”
The word “parigraha” is greed rooted in jealousy. Aparigraha encourages a simple and modest lifestyle. Being established in non-possessiveness, all the possibilities of how, why, where and when about the various existences are revealed to you. When you are not possessive of the body and mind, you comply with the present. Similarly, this mirrors the commandment “You shall not covet whatever that belongs to your neighbor”. The parable of the rich fool also underlines the danger of putting material possessions over God.
Happy Good Friday
200 hours YTT Jan weekends