At the top layer of Patanjali’s eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga lays the Yamas. They are:-
- Ahimsa – practice of non-violence no matter to others or oneself
- Satya – practice of truthfulness
- Asteya – practice of non-stealing ie. not taking what is not freely given
- Brahmacharya – practice of control over physical impulses of excess in order to attain knowledge, vigor and energy
- Aparigraha – practice of letting go and be contented with what is necessary in our lives
Even though these guidelines are for a practicing yogi, they can be considered applicable to all mankind as they are all expressed in the positive. While some, if not all guidelines are not easy to observe (we are humans after all!) we do try to strive towards such goals.
If we sit down and think about it, all these practices have been preached to us from young but as we grow up, some of them actually escaped from our lives without us noticing at all. Our lives are largely carved out from our characters, work environment, upbringing and even friends and family. While no one is perfect, taking some time to look back and into our lives till current and ask ourselves are we happy at this stage in our lives may not be a bad thing. We are so affected by the external factors in our lives we tend to neglect what’s happening on the inside.
Maybe we are not be able to practice the five yamas fully or even to the extent we would like but at the end of our lives and look back again, at the very least we can tell ourselves, we have tried and have no regrets.
Elaine (200h Weekend YTT July 2015)