Raja Yoga- Yama

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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”.

  1. 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.

  1. 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
Amanda
200 hours YTT Jan weekends

Philosophy: The Four Paths of Yoga


The four paths of yoga are all directed to different approaches of life. But despite this, they all lead to the same end path; the union with Brahman and true wisdom. Swami Sivananda taught that as humans we all have these four elements; intellect, heart, body and mind. To have a balance of them he advised to practice each element. He even said that according to people’s temperament they could emphasize the practice of certain Yogas over others.
Karma Yoga: The Yoga of Action
Karma yoga purifies the heart, teaching you how to act selflessly without personal gain or rewards. You learn to detach yourself from your own ego and rather open your heart to helping others. The devotion of yourself. They say it’s not how big your actions are or what you do that counts but rather your attitude and motivation. Both must be pure.
Bhakti Yoga: The Yoga of Devotion
Bhakti Yoga appeals to those of emotional nature. It is motivated by the power of love, and instead of trying to hide or get rid of these emotions, you seek to channel them by turning them into devotion. It is the union through love and devotion.
Raja Yoga: The Yoga of No mind, Scientific Approach
Raja Yoga can be referred to as the royal road. We use our mental and physical energy and transform it into spiritual energy. It is our mental control. One of the main practices of Raja Yoga is meditation. Through meditation we seek to control our body, energy, senses and mind; the goal or Raja. Raja Yoga is also another name for Ashtanga Yoga (8 limbs of yoga).
Jnana Yoga: The Yoga of Knowledge or Wisdom
Considered the most difficult path, this yoga requires strong will and intellect. You use your own mind to inquire into your nature. You break the barrier between the outside and inside to unite yourself. Before practicing Jnana Yoga it’s important to integrate the lessons of the other yogas, because they all help with the final path. Selflessness, love, and strength of body and mind lead to a succesful search of self realization.
Lan Otani 200HR YTT

Aparigraha – De-clutter and be liberated

Just as we need to still and clear our minds for meditation and ultimately enlightenment, a similar sense of freedom and wellbeing may be achieved by de-cluttering our homes and living quarters.
Personally I have become a self proclaimed expert at de-cluttering only because I have been compelled to go through the process by moving abroad many times. By moving countries one is faced with a situation of having to make a decision on every single item of one’s possession; whether to take, give away or dispose. This tedious process has left an indelible reminder in my mind about the ‘sins’ of accumulation and hoarding.
It is very difficult to shed these as I believe in most of us there is the seed of fear of separation from an article for a host of reasons: sentimental value, fear of letting go in case it is needed at a latter date or it could be that we are consumed by consumerism and need to buy more and more.
Any Feng Shui book will begin by advising the reader to de-clutter. Having cupboards and rooms full of things and clothes that one hardly uses or thinks that he/she might become useful in the future is like having weights round one’s ankles whilst trying to walk. This excess baggage hinders energy flow in a room apart from the fact that it attracts dust and housework becomes more laborious.
How can we de-clutter?
To start with we should question ourselves every time when we are shopping especially of non-consumables. Do we need this item so much that it deserves a place in our home? exercise machines and massage chairs are typical examples of large items often bought with the best intentions but often left in corners to gather dust.
Charities are hungry for all sorts of items and there are clothes and shoe banks all around town. Some charities will even collect large items of furniture
Have a garage sale or even sell unwanted items on the internet
When you hear that a friend or a family member is in need of something and you happen to have two of or one that is not used then take the opportunity to give. Giving is good for the soul!
Recycling is also an option. Unused or obsolete hardware and printers are often required for their parts or indeed sent abroad to third world countries to be recycled.
If you can’t be bothered with any of the above, then just bin the unwanted excess baggage. The municipal dump will sort things out for re-cycling.
Remember Aparigraha? One of the Yamas of Patanjali.  ‘Graha’ means “to grasp” and ‘pari’ means “things”. Aparigraha means “not grasping things” or non-possessiveness or non-hoarding.
A yogic maxim says, “All the things in the world are yours to use, but not to own.”
Whenever we become possessive, we are in turn possessed, anxiously holding onto our things and grasping for more. But when we make good use of the possessions that come to us and enjoy them without emotionally dependent on them then they do not wield power over us. We will be able to let go more easily.
Try letting go of stuff, it is very satisfying and liberating!