Eight Limbs of Yoga: Yamas



Day 1 of #HY8FOLDPATH Yoga Challenge – YAMAS

The Eighfold Path, or the Eight Limbs of Yoga, begins with Yama, which means restraint or regulation. The Yamas are five ethical principles for how we act and interact with ourselves and each other. This may not seem earth shattering at first, but the implications are actually quite profound! Putting these principles first means that we can’t experience inner peace if we are in conflict with ourselves or with others.  The mind simply can’t quiet under the stress of harmful behavior. So, our first step in the yoga practice is to restrain or regulate our behavior.

The Yamas are: AHIMSA (Non-harming/Non-violence), SATYA (Truthfulness), ASTEYA (Non-stealing), BRAHMACHARYA (Moderation/Self-control), and APARIGRAHA (Non-greed). They apply in thought, word and action to both ourselves and each other. Lastly, they are all extensions of Ahimsa (Non-harming). Here’s what’s really cool!They’re not rule-based! We’re not given do’s and don’ts. We are only given the principle! We apply the principle, observe the results and then modify accordingly.

For today, we focus our attention on non-harm, or ahimsa. The Yoga Sutras state that “To one established in non-harming, no hostility exists around him.” Imagine your life without hostility! What are some of the ways we harm ourselves or each other? Notice the thoughts that come up in your day, especially about yourself.

Is there criticism or judgment?

Do you hold stress, anxiety, fear?

Do you push yourself to or past your limit?

Do you avoid discomfort at the expense of growth?

What about the words we use or our reactions to others?

Are the products we consume careful and sustainable?

These are all small examples of ways we can apply and explore a Non-harming practice. The idea is simply to do as little harm as we possibly can and exercise kindness and care instead.

Here is a Practice in Ahimsa for today: Make it a point to smile at 5 people today and notice any effects. Add deep, calm breathing 5 times in your day. Om Shanti. Peace!

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