Each month we have a special theme for all our POP UP YOGA classes. For the month of May the theme is: Exploring Yamas. The following text is a profound and might be a bit tricky to understand, if you are not familiar with the philosophy of Yoga covered in the Yoga Sutras. Give it a try anyway.. at the end of the article our latest Yoga Playlist is waiting for you as a goodie :)
The 5 Yamas in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra 2.30
Yamas: Non-injury or non-harming (ahimsa), truthfulness (satya), abstention from stealing (asteya), mindful use of sexual energy (brahmacharya), and non-possessiveness or non-grasping with the senses (aparigraha) are the five yamas, or codes of self-regulation or restraint, and are the first of the eight steps of Yoga.
*ahimsa satya asteya brahmacharya aparigraha yama*
- ahimsa = non-violence, non-harming, non-injury
- satya = truthfulness, honesty
- asteya = non-stealing, abstention from theft
- brahmacharya = continence, being mindful of your sexual energy
- aparigraha = non-possessiveness, non-holding through senses, non-greed, non-grasping, non-indulgence, non-acquisitiveness
Building relationship with the world: It should be self evident that having a good relationship with the world and other people is imperative if we wish to sit for meditation and experience the depths of Self-realization. The five Yamas are a means of building that relationship.
Actions, speech, and thoughts: It is easy to mistakenly lump these three together, as if they are one concept. Actually, they are three separate practices, which work together intimately. To cultivate self-awareness or mindfulness of actions, speech, and thoughts as separate entities is very important. Witness your actions as an independent practice, though related to the others. Witness your speech as an independent practice, though related to the others. Witness your thoughts as an independent practice, though related to the others.
- Actions: The first level of self-awareness and self-regulation is that of actions in the external world. Each of the Yamas are consciously cultivated at the level of actions. By mindfulness and self-awareness, you see when your actions are contrary to the Yamas, and you can counter that by noting that the action is not useful, and acting more in line with the Yamas.
- Speech: Self-awareness and self-regulation of each of the Yamas are also consciously cultivated at the level of speech. By mindfulness and self-awareness, you see when your speech is contrary to the Yamas, and you can counter that by noting that the speech is not useful, and speaking more in line with the Yamas.
- Thoughts: The subtlest level of self-awareness and self-regulation is that of thought in the inner world. Each of the Yamas are consciously cultivated at the level of thought. By mindfulness and self-awareness, you see when your thoughts are contrary to the Yamas, and you can counter that by noting that the thought is not useful, and promoting positive thoughts that are more in line with the Yamas.
Coloring or klishta: It is extremely important to understand the subtler context of the coloring (klishta, 2.3, 2.4) involved with the Yamas. While we are surely wanting to practice the Yamas in their more obvious worldly sense, the part that is ultimately most important is the coloring or klishta qualities of the subtle mental traces, or samskaras in the karmashaya (2.12), as these form the veil (1.4) that blocks the direct experience of the center of consciousness (1.3). It is not that "I" am violent or non-violent, truthful or non-truthful, etc. Rather, it is the thought patterns deep in the basement of the mind (chitta), which have been colored in some way (2.4). These colorings are dealt with in their gross (2.1-2.9) and subtle (2.10-2.11) levels.
In conclusion: The better your relationship with the world and other people, and the more you have lovingly trained yourself through the Yamas, then the more naturally will come the other steps to meditation and higher experience. Your daily practice and meditation can then, in turn, enhance the way you relate with the world and with yourself. In this way, all of the rungs, or limbs of Yoga work together.