About the Practice of Yama and Niyama…

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The first Yogic Scholar to document the Tenets for the science of Hatha Yoga was Shri Patanjali in his text Hatha Yoga Pradipika, written at least 3,000 years ago in India.  Hatha Yoga science is not a religion, it is a philosophy for the Art of conscious living.  Hatha Yoga science embraces all faiths, creeds and religions.  The original text was written in Sanskrit and the following is a transliteration that approximates the original context.  Do know Classical Indian Hatha Yoga was scientifically developed as a “101” course to allow people to be strong enough in mind and physical body to be able to sit still for extended periods of time for Raja Yoga: Kriya Yoga/meditation to develop the highest state of Conscious Living. 

There are ten tenets: five Yama known as the ethical practices and five Niyama or conscious observances.  In today’s post I will share the five Yama/Ethical Practices:

AhismaNon-violence.  Ahisma means causing no harm to any living being, including oneself, in thought, word or deed.  Non-violence is the basis of all the other Yama and Niyama.  True non-violence is love.

SatyaTruth.  Satya means not only abstaining from falsehood, but also seeing the inherent good in everyone.  Whenever possible, practicing periods of silence will greatly support one in this Yama.  A suggestion: try to be silent one morning or even one day in the week.  If that is not possible , create times where social interaction is minimized, (including FaceBook and internet!), in which you only speak when necessary with truth and sweetness.

AsetyaNon-stealing.  Asetya also means releasing the desire to possess that which belongs to another.

AparigrahaNon-possessiveness.  We all need certain possessions.  However, many of us not only accumulate more than we need, but continually desire even further luxuries.  Thus engaged, we disturb our peace of mind.  The more simply we live, the more energy can be devoted to our spiritual practice.

Brahmacharyamoderation.  Through Brahmacharya in all areas of our lives, the seeker saves, and thus accumulates great energy that can be channeled into his/her spiritual experience.  This practice is imperative for those wishing to embark upon the spiritual path.

Please do look for part two: Niyama in the next post.  Perhaps take some time to reflect on what the above Yama signifies for you.  For those who keep a journal the Yama and Niyama give us much to think and weave into our daily thoughts and actions.  Best wishes for deep Reflection, Namaste.

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203 responses »

  1. Satya is something I can relate to the most. I feel as though Satya is something we can all engage with in our everyday lives, especially in our interactions. You can learn something from every person with whom you interact. Being silent in a conversation allows for you to put your own thoughts on hold and accept the information you hear from other minds. Listening lets you engage with new information and receive new perspectives. Being more aware of other’s opinions while not verbally interacting with them gives you no choice but to be more aware. This awareness definitely fits in with the conscious living aspect of the Yama.

    Aparigraha and Brahmacharya go hand in hand in that they discuss the need for minimalism. The constant desire for an even more luxurious lifestyle takes away our gratitude for what we already have. A more moderate lifestyle is liberation in a sense because we can live in the present as opposed to demanding a more crowded future. Unclogging the mind of such materialism is an act of freedom and well-being. Personally, however, this sounds like a difficult thing to achieve, while in principle it sounds like the ideal way to live, in practice it would be immensely challenging. Where does one begin to modify such an apparent aspect of their life?

  2. I really love all of these practices because it enhances mindfulness and spreads genuine energy to the world.
    All of the practices spoke to me. They are a part of my beliefs and values. Ahimsa is a great reminder, (causing no harm to any living being including oneself,) to make sure that your actions are not affecting others or oneself. Stay speaks to me. Whenever possible, i try to find periods of silence in my day to ground myself and gather my thoughts. Aparigraha reminds us to choose wisely and not
    ‘accumulate more than we need, but continually desire even further luxuries.’

    This post highlights how we can channel our energy into a spiritual experience. By channeling these practices, the world may become a more efficient and healthy place.

  3. It is important to take note of how Hatha Yoga is not necessarily restricted to one religion, though it still dictates certain principles for healthy living (love, patience, generosity: all of these are cultural universals shared by all moralistic humans). This quote, in particular, stood out to me: “Hatha Yoga science is not a religion, it is a philosophy for the Art of conscious living. Hatha Yoga science embraces all faiths, creeds, and religions.” The use of the term “science” is what I really found intriguing. I immediately thought of the “Science Behind Yoga” film we watched a few weeks ago (found: http://upliftconnect.com/watch-science-behind-yoga/), in respect to how it has physiological effects that now have the ability to be studied and promoted in modern science and medicine. This is actually an interesting bridge in the debate of science and religion, in my opinion. A common response to this debate is “one explains the how, the other explains the why”, when in reality it is more likely that they are two human-based principles trying to explain the same thing (source: http://whatthebleep.com/). But when we see concepts such as the Hatha Yoga, it’s obvious that the “spiritual” aspect of human living should be able to coincide with the physical and logical explanations of the world that surrounds us.
    The Hatha Yoga appropriately encompasses all religions and faiths because the Yama and Niyama are broad and universal enough to apply to humans as a whole. And we can actually use this as an example of the “how vs. the why” working together. As stated in the post, the Yama is focused on the more mental and emotional roots of good health, while the Niyama is slightly more physical. But, at the same time, they still emphasize the coexistence of the emotional and physical, mind and body. So there is obviously proof as to why it is labeled as “Hatha Yoga Science”, but it is not necessarily strictly a definition of science within the context of science being an “opponent” of spirituality. There is a science to spiritual practices just in the same way that aspects of science can be seen in a religious sense. Regardless, the Yama and Niyama provide a central truth in the body and mind working together, to the point where we can even achieve a higher state of well-being through temporarily detaching from both.

  4. All five Yamas definitely apply to all of us. As for me, Asetya is really important to remember. This is not only due to material possessions.
    Apparently we all feel jealous at times but what is most important is how we handle it. I have a tendency to dislike others who have what I want. This mainly pertains to looks and personality more than material things (in that regard my “needs” are met). Two examples are looks and confidence. Aside from criticizing myself, I’ll stress over not having the genetics for an “ideal” physique and not having the “genetics” (if that being the case) for the level of confidence I wish to attain. Of course I work hard at “self-improvement” but no matter how hard I work I’m always focusing on someone who is “better” than me.
    With applying Asetya to my practice, not only will I overall become more peaceful as a person and less envious, but I will also be more content with what I have. Hence I’ll be a happier person. I’m glad I’m seeing positive results with this practice.

  5. I thought that this was very interesting. It seems that these practices are guided toward generally being a really good person. Things like non-stealing and non-violence seem inherent to our being but we forget that many things we may do in our lives to not follow these paths. Sometimes I feel that I need to step back from the world and see everything broadly in order to see how I am towards others, and also to see how I can better myself in many of the ways listed. Personally, I think that I need to focus on aparigraha, or non-possessiveness, because I often feel that what I have in life is not enough and I am always looking to buy more things, but I know that having a family, a shelter, and basic necessities is all it take for me to survive, so why is that not good enough? I am definitely going to try to be better about this.

  6. As an individual who tries daily to live more consciously, the five Yama’s encompass the ideal ethical practices. Practices that not only address the self, but also how to react, avoid and negate negative energies around us. The Yama’s keep us reminded that the path to healing, consciousness and growth are not easily obtained, but strengthen when we adapt those ideals into our daily practice. Although the Yama’s have been written over 3000 years ago, it’s concept of “philosophy for the art of conscious living” have a timeless adaptability for those to practice today regardless of religion, creed, faith or orientation.

    The concept of Satya is a practice I’ve been incorporating into my daily routines, specifically for the morning duration of my day. This week after my morning Isha Kriya, I added the practice of Satya. On day three I noticed that how I dealt with frustration and anxiety began to change. Instead of consuming/responding to world news with sadness, anger and stress I started to seek MY truth. Truth that Brahmacharya (moderation) is necessary in order to maintain my peace. Moderation in the information I consume and being mindful to seek only Truth, regardless of what news headlines are buzzing to inflict fear.

    I’m more than confident that if beginner yogi’s on the path similar to ours incorporate the yama’s into daily practice, the spiritual response will be uplifting and reassuring. The five yama’s aid to keep practitioners conscious of the now, reminding us to LIVE in the present moment.

  7. Through personal experiences, I know that Hatha Yoga is not restricted to one religion. These ways, forms, terms of living are not just things to digest but constantly work through as conscious living beings. Not only have I learned but just the other day I was having a conversation with my professor about a similar tangible topic.
    As humans we tend to wonder whether we are good or evil, we contemplated and came to a conclusion that we are both. We obtain goodness and evilness within us. This is okay, it is only “human”. This derived from the development of consciousness. Now do we reject one side and only embrace the other? No, I believe we have to be aware of the bad that we obtain. We must use these characteristics to feed something healthy. Redirecting that evil energy towards a stimulating and positive goal. Whether it is through the practice or mediation, art, music making etc. We can direct those energies, and the most ugly energy of all, jealousy, in the right place. Compartmentalizing these actions and feelings is true human growth.
    We must work through these tendencies we create. Through constant practice and thinking we can become more whole. We can become aware of our true nature.

  8. Hatha Yoga is an interesting concept. It is not a religion; it is simply a guide to conscious living. It is used to get people to discipline their mind and body. It is a way to build up your mind and body to the highest state of conscious living. In the post, it speaks about the five Yamas and five Niyamas. It is an ethical practice that focuses on conscious observations. When I say conscious observations, I mean observations we are able to take notice in of ourselves when we are elevating to a new level or conscious living. The five Yamas listed hold a lot of meaning. The five words used are Ahisma, Satya, Asetya, Aparigraha and Bramacharya.

    These five Yamas, all speak to me differently. Ahishma has to do with non-violence. We live in a corrupt world that has to have evil in order for there to be a balance. The balance of good and bad is what keeps us in this continuous cycle of what we call living. With Satya, it means seeing the good in everyone. It is hard for me to see the good in people sometimes because I am a very skeptical person. I have been learning how to trust people based on giving them chances. While also, getting to know the person and not going based on what other people say about them. Asetya, speaks about Non-stealing. I could not really relate to this, but if I wanted to relate I would say that I learned how to be less possessive over people. Especially the ones I love. I understand we are all humans and don’t have the right to control other people. Aparigraha means Moderation. I had a few problems with relating to this, but it is true. Every time we get to another level in our conscious living, we change. There is always another experience to talk about because we learn through the Yamas which are ethical practices we follow to embrace the idea of unity and love.

  9. Aparigraha seems to be the most interesting and relevant Yama to me. I find myself struggling with the constant want of luxuries and physical possessions. The idea that my happiness hinges on objects, and that if I have this one thing I will finally feel complete. Often when I’m feeling sad or lonely I will online shop for the latest and greatest beauty care. Buying clothes seems like it will fulfill me, and make me more appealing. If I get this top, I will be happy with myself. However, the desire doesn’t end. My mother always tells me that things come and go but memories last. I am interested in simplifying my life, getting rid of things and living in a cleaner way.

    For the Isha Kriya, I have tried to do it frequently but have had a hard time finding a space to be alone. However, it seems easier each time to fully relax my mind. Long walks in the quiet woods around school give an isolated space to do my meditations. Each day I feel more accomplished as I begin to clear my thoughts. I have found that the chants from the Isha Kriya are helpful to repeat in my head when I find myself stressed in public spaces.

  10. Apparently there are ten tenets which adhere to rules of yoga. They are broken into sub divisions known as yama and niyama. Yama are known for being a set of ethical practices, while Niyama are referred to as “conscious observances”. Five practices are associated with each group.

    I particularly agree with the Brahmacharya which falls into the yama sub group. Brahmacharya is basically the belief that individuals should live with a sense of moderation. Being balanced in all aspects of life helps to accumulate and channel great energy into one’s own experiences.

    The simplicity of life that can brought through Aparigraha is encouraging. Not being possessive and wanting more than we need and living beyond our means. I feel that people would be happier if they appreciate what they have rather than what they don’t have. Namaste

  11. I read on the Yama and also the Niyama, and find them to be great guidelines to bettering myself. The one that seems like it would encompass and inspire a lot of the other tenets for me is the Satya : truth, silence, and stillness. This whole week I have been feeling that my words of not been understood with the same intention as i spoke them. I was feeling sorry for myself, and misunderstood, but I realized that I should be more intentional about what I say and why I am saying it. And perhaps be more silent more often. I think this would be most useful for me and would help me in my every day life to always be content in the moment, present in the moment, and keep my mind still in the moment. These 10 tenets I think will inspire me to be more present in life, and to help my self-realization.
    It is very humbling to be reminded again and again of the simple rules of harmonious living that solve so many of my “problems.” It can even be quite frustrating to remember that I hold the key to unlock all my grievances, annoyances and frustrations! Thats when I know it is time to practice the Isha Kriya.
    I have practiced the Isha Kriya four times this week. Each practice has seemed to be shorter than the last, which I take as a good sign that I am able to focus my mind better. I now hope I can bring the same focus and attention to other areas of my school and work in order to not be overwhelmed with my “busyness.”

    • An excellent honest refreshing essay! Silence offers us ample opportunity to witness our selves. When you say you have shortened your IK practice what time are you allowing for now? Namaste

  12. I love the line “Hatha Yoga science is not a religion, it is a philosophy for the Art of conscious living.” I think it’s really important to highlight this and it gives great background into why all forms of yoga are practiced across the world and are so popular. It is free from discrimination and the politics that are involved with religion I feel like. It’s also interesting to see how much yoga does in fact influence religion, for example, the praying hands most people do in each religion, the lotus sitting position practiced in Muslim and Buddhist religions, and when Muslims are doing their daily prayers to the Quran they often enter into the child’s pose with arms outstretched above the head. All these forms are in religion, however, yoga is different because it’s the focus and celebration of one’s self in regards to the universe and how to balance this relationship. As well as charge that inner energy to be our best selves.

  13. The fact that this post referred to Hatha yoga as a science and uses the word “scientifically” to describe the practice was very interesting to me. I have practiced yoga before but I never thought about it as a science until watching the video “The Science Behind Yoga.” Now however, I can understand how yoga can be viewed as a science becuase the practices are intentially thought of in terms of how they benefit the body and connect it with the breath and mind. I also like the idea of yoga as a philosophy, which is what I’ve more often thought of it as, becuase it reminds us that what we learn in practicing can be taken much further than the classroom and can benefit us in our daily lives. For me, I think that applying the way I think while practicing yoga gives me a broader prospective in life and allows me to be more mindful and understanding when communicating with other people.
    The Yama that spoke to me the most was Ahisma or non-violence. The quote “true non-violence is love” particularly resonated with me and I took it to mean that truly practicing Ahisma is not only abstaining from violence but being non-violent becuase you have love and respect for other living beings. I strongly believe that it is correct that Ahisma is the basis of all other Yama and that the same idealologies should be the basis of all other philosophies and religions. Another Yama that I think about most often is Satya and especially the idea of taking some time out for silence. Taking time for myself is usually difficult but I’ve been trying to make an effort to take even a few minutes out of the day to be by myself and to think becuase I think it helps me be more present in the rest of my day and with other people.

  14. The Yama are about preventing bad behaviors. You must avoid bad behaviors that can cause pain and follow behaviors that lead to happiness. They are sort of like the Ten Commandments, but not really. Where the commandments are more like don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t over indulge, and don’t be violent. The Yama want you to look a little deeper. Instead of don’t lie, seek the truth and find the good in all. You must clear your mind of desires to have what others possess. You must be able to live a simple life. The Yama are a guide to help us achieve inner and outer peace and harmony. They also help us look at ourselves with the meditation. The Yama are the beginning steps to transform your life. These are all simple practices that everyone should really be following every day.

  15. It is interesting to me that these values and practices are present not only ing Yoga, but other religions that developed in alternate regions around the globe. My personal explantation for why this might be is that these values live at the core of most human beings. It is easy to understand why people find great importance or meaning in these concepts. They seem to assist any practitioner in being more mindful of others, of their own trials and struggles, and the world at large. Anyone immersed in a college environment is engaged in Satya, striving for the obtainment of new knowledge and truth about the world around them.

    Any American could find peace in engaging with Aparigraha, because we are pushed and pulled from every angle by corporations who wish to turn a profit from our well-earned dime. We live in a materialist society. Every now and then it is important to disengage from our material needs and desires and ask if we really need more than what we have right now. It is any easy way to do away with stress of fitting in and a great way to save money.

    By engaging with Saucha and Santosha, anyone is capable of realizing themselves to the fullest extent. It is important that we not ask more of ourselves than what we are capable of doing. It is also important not to worry about things we cannot afford or may not obtain, because after all, it is beyond our reach.

  16. This is pretty interesting. The Yama’s are like the Ten Commandments of Christianity. They both have the rule of not stealing and the rule of not bearing false witness and even the rules of not killing and not coveting peoples possessions. This actually makes you realize that Yoga and Christianity are very similar in a lot of areas.

  17. These tenets of the Yama, and the way they are presented, makes sense within the initial statement referring to “Hatha Yoga science”. We approach science, and also religion, with certain sets of procedures and practices in mind, and this is no different within the practice of Hatha Yoga, arguably a point in which science and faith can intersect. I don’t have authority to speak on this, but with the simplistic nature used to describe the Yamas, it seems they can be adopted and applied to many different situations, depending on the practitioner. Most notably, is the definition of Asetya. It’s described as non-stealing, but also releasing the desire to possess what belongs to others. It can be taken literally, as to physically not steal, but also within the interior of one’s mind, where they should not have even the desire to possess something that isn’t their’s, which can easily give way to thoughts of theft and stealing. All of this, I would argue, comes under the umbrella of practicing truth. Being truthful to both yourself, and those around you.

  18. I found reading about Hatha Yoga was very interesting. I have heard of it before however, I was not aware of what it consisted of. I find these aspects such as moderation and truth to be concepts we should remind ourselves everyday. Additionally, I find it to be very important when I practice to remind myself of some of these components. Being a science major, I like having concepts and facts as well as proof that my practices are benefiting me. I see a gradual improvement in my mental health as well reminding me of these things. Yoga is about finding power within oneself and I feel these concepts can be lost with the stress of everyday life. Mentally/physically healing by practicing but also being aware of the science component.

  19. I have friends that are actually turned off from yoga and meditation because they fear religious persecution in their own faiths. But I think it is interesting and important for people to know that the practice of Hatha yoga and meditation is actually not a religious practice at all. It is a spiritual one, and I think people have a hard time differentiating between spiritual lifestyles and religious ones.

    Hatha yoga and meditation are also tremendously beneficial to people’s health. And could really help a lot of people who have stress and different road blocks in life. I think the tenements of yoga are also really important creeds and ethics to live by. People who are afraid of yoga because of religion should also know that these different pillars of the practice are pieces to living a good and clean life, just like with religion.

    • There are sects and groups in India, especially some old school Hindus who heavily profess religious connections with yoga. However, The Sages and Shri Patanjali did not prescribe yoga to be religious at all. The AdiYogi, Shiva, is older than Hinduism. This is all very unfortunate, as Classical Indian Hatha Yoga never was shared to exclude anyone, but to offer a way to live well for All. In my spiritual journey I have come to find The Isha Foundation to embrace Yoga for All, in all aspects, so I feel safe sharing the teachings with you and others. Yama and Niyama are higher principles than those found in religious tenets as it actually offers a psycho-social basis for people to understand behaviors that are healthy and those that can lead to dangerous situations. Combined with practicing hatha yoga the principles can be actualized, better than just reading or being told what to do. Hope that makes some sense, best wishes OM

  20. The more that is discovered about Yoga in this class through these assignments are what make the practice interesting. I find that the 5 Yamas are very broad principles yet they highlight such a strong importance. Each of the rules is a wonderful step to live by in order to become a wholesome and kind person. These steps reflect on how this is not a religion but a philosophy. Each Principle supports each other to build a fine understanding of high consciousness.

  21. Of the 5 Yama practices I think I would have to work on Aparigraha. While I think it is important for everyone to have all that they might need, in today’s world not everyone does. When you don’t have to constantly be worrying about where your next meal will come from or if your drinking water is clean enough for you to drink, it seems so much easier for one to get caught up in the material things in life. For me the first time I realized that I had so much more than I could ever possibly need or want was when I visited my mother’s family in the Dominican Republic. Children there don’t always have much. One girl who, at the time, was around the same age as me told me that she had never even had a bed of her own because she had always shared a bed with her younger sister. This has always resonated with me. From then on I was always even more grateful than I previously was for everything I was given, and I have always tried to help others.

  22. I enjoy how these are set up in a way that makes them less intimidating than a religion or a rule. Of course this has to do with that statement being made at the beginning, but even the way the five Yamas are worded makes them seem very accessible…which they are. I feel that we all have these five movements within us, we just have to learn how to cultivate them. They even seem like common sense, with a little twist. It is like the fuller version of what we’re told as children. I really want to try Satya for the rest of the week. I periodically delete the social media apps I have on my phone when I notice myself becoming too attached to them, so maybe this week will be my week to do that again, too!

    These are such simple, beautiful practices that could really make such an impact on day to day life. They could even make an impact on the mind I think. If you practice them over an over they just become part of who you are and what you do. I’d love to incorporate them more into my daily life!

  23. When it comes the practice of hatha Yoga, I appreciate the correlation in which it is beneficial to both the mind and body, where most would assume yoga is a practice of one’s physical flexibility. The most essential tool to when doing Hatha Yoga more weight on the strength of one’s mind and common beliefs, not just physical capability. It through the dedication and perseverance of our moral standards that we become more inclined with ourselves through the practice of the Yama and Niyama.

    The influence behind the Yama and Niyama teachings essentially make up the standard structure of being a guidelines in which to lead a proper, fulfilled life. Through these teachings, those who follow are able to obtain true transparency and serenity. As individuals, I think we all follow a certain code or standard at which we live our lives by, and the practice shown above is simply another code that shares common ground with others codes we seem to follow today.

    I consider it important that we always uphold our normal tradition, but also consider the teachings being shown above. Despite the simplicity of the rules being instructed, I think they give a well formed blend and balance when it comes to explaining our place within the world.

  24. Tyler Schrader

    This is very righteous reading and a reminder of the true qualities of life. Most pass by and over look this day to day. The five yama or ethnical princibles are always within reach and natural within your subconscious and intuition- its just the matter of discovering it. Your decision process and morals or key to success. This is something that is contained by everyone, if only we could all contain it. The world would indeed be a different place. Peace would truly resonate. I look forward to Connecting both the five yama and Ishia Kria together. It is powerful apart but mighty together.

    Aparigraha is a big leading factor for our generation. We are in a technological revolution. Everything revolves around materialism. The biggest distraction of all. Living in an illusion of plastic lives roaming through life step by step. One day i will sell all my belongings to take the world by the hand.Where everywhere is home, free as a bird. I find myself holding onto things that are meaningless that congest my being. Its good to let go- start fresh, me myself and I. This is a good place to start and many other negative qualities root from this.

  25. The greatest challenge in practicing the tenets of Yama is not the challenge of achieving enlightenment, but rather living a Yama life in a capitalist society. A number of the aspects of Yama involve living modestly and un-materialistically. While embracing the idea of non-violence is a no-brainer, forgoing the allure of objects is much harder. Personally, I love buying stuff, from records and action figures to books and clothes. However, the practice of yoga is about finding fulfillment in one’s self rather than material things. I understand this, but it is still a hard aspect to forgo being raised in a nation that stresses the importance of purchasing truly meaningless things.

  26. It’s interesting that this has scientific roots instead of religious ones. I was raised in a christian household and went to church and a lot of their ethical and spiritual thoughts are very similar. Love thy self, love thy neighbor, get rid of greed and jealousy. It’s the same concepts, but with different words. I also find most of the religions I know about also hold a lot of these values. It makes me wonder if these religions developed these ideas scientifically. It also reminds me of the video from last weeks journal assignment, the video about stress, it is scientifically proven that your outlook on life and how you let it stress you affects your health. If you love yourself and others and don’t let negativity penetrate you then what do you have to be stressed about. I also wonder if people who study this truly practice it. In the church God is love and christians are suppose to be loving. However they often, not always, shame women, hate LGBTQ folk, and don’t follow their own rules of love.

    • Good question, hopefully those exposed to principles of conscious lifestyle may become motivated to start living in harmony with these values. In my travels I have found that many places in the East wherein folks are raised with this values keep to them. When communities share values it helps to reinforce each other. Namaste

  27. It is fascinating to learn about ancient yogi text , but even more interesting to observe the similarity of the ethical codes that have been spread throughout human history. The Yama ethical practices don’t seem to far off from old biblical codes or even mythological text before then. Ashism being non- violence is a general ethical code, but truth, non-stealing, non-possessiveness, and moderation all link up with commonly know “sins” such as Baring false witness, envy, gluttony, and greed.

  28. I think several people had mentioned this in the earlier comments but I also find the Yamas to be very similar to the Ten Commandments in the Catholic religion. I was raised Catholic so adhering to the Yamas is not a drastic transition for me, Some of them go without saying such as the statement about not stealing but others like “seeing the inherent good in everyone” can be much more of a challenge. I know I speak not only for myself when I say that I can sometimes be very quick to judge based off appearances or first impressions alone. This is an aspect of my personality that I hope to one day to be rid of. I think it’s wonderful how much more there is to Yoga than just the physical aspect and am looking forward to the positive changes it will bring to my life.

    • You have started here a good beginning to creating a worthy essay. I hope you do not spend time reading others journals as most so far have not taken the time to submit worthy assignments. Keep on your own path and I am certain you may end up developing good yoga journals. OM

  29. I’ve come to learn that yoga is not only sport and relaxation, but truly a way to live. The Yama and Niyama is absolute proof of that. I see this as a list of rules and ethical ways of being. Similar to a way a bible tells people how to do right and live well. This practice becomes almost religious. I apreciate this way of councious being, and taking considerate steps toward being a more whole and well being person.

  30. These guidelines are very important and seem to lay out practice that are taught in many other religions but leave out the more judgmental and divisive attitudes that are often brought with them. Yoga has such a focus in self improvement and reflection that there isn’t time to judge others. You may give them the tools but it is up to them to use them. I really admire that about this practice.

  31. Noah Chestnut

    I find this quite intriguing, It aligns itself almost like it’s a religion. But why? I think it’s similar because most religions have a base set of rules and so does this. It explains that you shouldn’t steal, kill or anything like that. And it’s very interesting because I always looked at yoga at strictly an exercise. But the more I learn the more I see yoga is a way a life, not just exercise.

  32. Reading about the Yamas was significantly intriguing because a although they guidelines, they do not come across in a bounding or threatening way as some religions do or how some people feel they do. The words used themselves promotes the conscious way of living, one that actively helps you. Thinking of these state in a mental, spiritual sense and not just literally as opposed to being told “Do not” or “One Shall not” like that of the Ten Commandments in The Bible or other similar religious text. I grew up in a religious household and I was very distant from the catholic practices because of the many confines it had and the negativity it pushed on me was very clear. It was unconsciously trying to follow rules and not do wrong because I was told not to by something. However I connect to text like the Yamas because allows you to actively be conscious of these steps and to know why so it benefits you as well as others. I think this is extremely powerful and progressive, to be more conscious of your living and not just blindly following laws but to know why and to give it meaning.

  33. It was interesting to see how many comparisons can be made between a variety of religions and the Yamas that are discussed above. However, unlike most religious practices, the yamas do not force you into boundaries but instead allow you a more peaceful freedom. I enjoyed the concepts it held such as the non-possessiveness because I often find myself desiring things that are unnecessary to want at the end of the day because they will not benefit me. This kind of mindset , I have noticed, has caused me to under-appreciate the things I have already and only ever brought apn negativity into my life. I also love how this practice , unlike religion, is supported by science which assures me to be more confident about following this practice and believing in it.
    – Samantha Diaz

  34. I’ve never thought to think of yoga as a science or a philosophy for the Art of conscious living. Yoga as a philosophy and way of life seems like a lot of hard work but extremely beneficial and relaxing in the long run, I have an even greater appreciation for yogis and masters as well as anyone attempting to live a more conscious life. It is really interesting and amazing to know just how powerful and thoughtful yoga is- with every intentional breath posture and pose you are giving benefits to your body just by doing different practices of yoga and meditation. I wish to be able to sit for an extended period of time with a relaxed body and mind, hopefully with furthering my Hatha yoga practice I will be able to do so along with my ever changing and growing mindset. ​

  35. I take a lot of pride in trying to live my life in accordance with the ethical practices of the Yama. It helps my body and my mind relax when I truly know i am acting in accordance with these principles for no reason other than for the sake of doing it. Recently I have been doing my best to encourage non-violence when faced with difficult situations. The peace of mind and quality of life that come with being nonviolent and avoiding confrontations help one to realize how sacred life and health are, and how foolish we are for jeopardizing it so constantly. I also like to stress the importance of honesty when interacting with others. I value trust greatly, and have the utmost respect for those truly honest people. When one only speaks the truth their word and their reputation will positively precede them wherever they go in life. While I try to employ all five ethical practices, I feel these are the two most important ones.

  36. This lesson explains the first five tenets of Hatha Yoga. They are simple concepts that can be incredibly difficult to adhere to. However, following these teachings is beneficial in every aspect of life. The tenets that stood out to me are Ahisma, Aparigraha, and Brahmacharya.

    Ahisma– Non-violence. This concept seems simple – don’t harm others, not even insects, but the part that I find most difficult is not doing harm to oneself. We harm ourselves on a daily basis in ways we are not even aware of. A negative thought, eating something that is not nourishing or healthy, negative self-talk – these are all ways we can be doing unconscious harm to ourselves. I have always struggled with this concept, and I have spent the greater part of my life doing harm to my body or mind. I have eaten like crap, haven’t exercised, and have lived in pretty much a constant state of anger or anxiety. Recently, however, I have made the conscious decision to no longer do things to my body that cause it harm. I have limited my intake of unhealthy food and have been more active. This yoga class has really helped me see how strong my body is. I have also been going for more walks. I am now working on eliminating any harmful or negative thoughts from my mind. It is a process.

    Aparigraha – Non-possessiveness. I have developed a coping mechanism for my stress that relates directly to this concept. I have a bit of a shopping problem, as sometimes I am so stressed that I feel the only thing that will make me feel better is a new sweater or new shoes. I am learning to be content with what I already have, as it is already more than anyone could ever need, but it is not easy. It is difficult because it is wrapped up with my stress management, and sometimes material objects can make me feel better about all the pressure I’m under with work and school. I suppose the first thing to do is to focus on my feelings of gratitude for everything I am blessed to already have.

    Brahmacharya – moderation. I have a pretty good sense of when I am overdoing something. It could be anything – eating, drinking, time spent being lazy on the weekends. It is important to learn to get up from whatever that happens to be and move a muscle to change a thought. In the past months when I have been more conscious of what I am ingesting I have been much happier with myself. In terms of eating and drinking, I find that I am so grateful the next day if I enjoyed myself in moderation.

    Catherine Halstead

  37. I found the simple definitions of each Yama to be quite powerful, which surprised me. There were three that resonated with me greatly, and I will share why.
    The first one I resonated with was Ahisma. This is because I consider myself to be a very mindful person in terms of how I speak to and treat others. I do my best to be kind and compassionate, and most days it is not something I have to try hard at. It just feels good, knowing that I am being kind to the people around me. But what I never really thought on the moral implications of being unkind to myself. My depression and anxiety often make me very critical of myself and self deprecating. As one continues to berate oneself, they often become numb to the language they use to speak to themselves, and the way they treat themselves. This has most definitely been the case for me, and I struggle with catching my toxic thoughts and shifting the way I speak to myself. I have always placed importance on kindness, love, and openness in my interactions with others, but I often fail to see the importance of affording MYSELF that same compassion.
    The second Yama that resonated with me was Satya. This is because I consider myself to be an excellent communicator. I feel that I speak with a lot of purpose, and can communicate and express myself in a very clear, concise, and reasonable manner. What I have been recently realizing however, is the importance and power of silence. I realized that I struggle with listening to listen, and not listening to speak, cutting others off, and not being able to give those I speak to my full attention. I realize in this behavior is an arrogance, and an assumption that my words have more value than theirs, or that their words are irrelevant. This is not the kind of person I want to be and I have been struggling to find ways to challenge myself to improve upon this. The idea of spending a day in silence, and only speaking when necessary is extremely appealing to me. It will allow me to truly process my words before I say them, and confront whether they are necessary or not. Ask myself if my words will add and uplift or detract and put down. I will definitely try to put this exercise into practice, and I look forward to seeing all that I can learn in those moments of quiet.
    The third and final Yama that I connected with was Asetya. I have recently been struggling envy. I see my friends or even just people I know with things, experiences, or opportunities that I would like to have and I become envious. It is a trait I despise, because I wish to be in a place of personal security, so that I can look at their blessings with only love and gratitude that they are blessed. I feel that this happens because of my own feelings of personal lack, but despite knowing its root, I struggle with releasing it. I wish to be content in my own blessings, and motivated to attain that which I desire in a way that is healthy, and not nasty like feelings of envy.

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