The First Limb of Yoga: Yamas

For my yoga teaching training I have an assignment / am partaking in a Yama and Niyama challenge. Each day for 10 days I focus on one at a time and see how I can learn and incorporate them into my daily living. Today’s post is the Yamas and my experience with them.

Yamas

1st December

  1. Ahimsa = Non violence

Ah – him – sa

Ahimsa

Ahimsa, compassion, not to hurt, do no harm – or as my Mum has always said to me ‘if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing’

Ahimsa comes from the Sanskrit word himsa, which means to strike. Himsa is to harm so a-himsa is to do no harm.

What does non violence / ahimsa mean to me? Today it meant I considered the ants that were scurrying along the pavement as I walked to the train station. On my train journey into work the carriage got so crowded and full, we were all squeezed in like sardines and a gentleman bumped my head with his elbow and personal space was entirely diminished. I started to feel myself getting annoying and frazzled by it all  but I came back to ahimsa, took a deep breath and smiled at those around me. They didn’t choose to have an earlier train cancelled, they didn’t intend to smush up next to strangers, everyone just wanted to have a nice journey into work so I focused on that instead of getting annoyed. I used my smile instead to create a better energy.

I really had ahminsa in the forefront of my mind all day long. I tried to keep it there as I thought about myself, as I spoke to others and in the actions I took all day long.

2nd December

2. Satya = Truthfulness

Sat – ya

Satya

Ahhh truthfulness, this is a very important yama and there is much a debate as to how truthful one should go. Does a white lie count? Does saying something you don’t believe to make someone feel good count? Are you truthful to yourself internally? Should you tell the absolute truth 100% of the time?

Well yes. I believe so. However ensuring this to be constant is the tricky part! I feel extremely strongly about this yama, truth to me is the epitome of  showing yourself to others and to yourself. I have Verita tattooed on my elbow (which means truth in Italian) for this very reason, believing truth to mean:

If you always tell the truth, then you would never act in a way that would cause you to feel the need to lie which means you are always trying to be the best person you can be.

Today satya was what I focused on and I found through this that:

  • I didn’t express the entire story to someone today and halfway through the conversation I realised this was satya and I stopped and told it just as it was and the situation was totally fine. I realised I need to not be scared of just being honest!!!
  • I found myself hearing people speaking lies, one example being my fiancé saying negative things about himself and me knowing them to not be true and questioning what he truly believes to find he indeed thinks they are not true either. Eliminating this negative self talk is something satya is teaching me too

3rd December

3. Asteya = Non Stealing

Ass – tey – ya

Asteya

This yama I have found a little tougher to bring into my daily life today. Non stealing – don’t steal? No there has to be a bit more substance to it than just that notion (a very good one at that though!)

In todays insanely hectic world this yama of asteya best relates to TIME & HAPPINESS for me – to be attentive of not stealing time, from myself and others and to not take away any happiness from whatever is happening in the present moment.

I did this today through being more attentive to the conversations I was having with people and considering if I was making best use of my time and theirs with the words being spoken (this got me up at 5am to workout instead of sleep through my alarm!) I also tried to keep the feeling of happiness and gratitude with me all day and to not allow anyone to take that away from me, but instead try and inject it into everyone else’s day a bit more too! This made me have more interesting conversations and be more open which was a nice surprise!

4th December

4. Brahmacharya = Control

Bra – ma – char – ria

Brahmacharya

Brahmacharya means self control, to abstain, control of your senses, conserving your energy and directing your energy in a useful way.

I was struggling to bring this into my day so I read up about it, in doing so realised that was a way to bring it into my day!

I read a great quote today about this yama ‘Brahmacharya teaches us to recognize that moment of “just enough”

Initially this yama was about celibacy and to abstain from using your energy on sex – mmm not so relevant in todays world I don’t think, not in that sense!

For me, it is more about control of my energy, control of my habits and control of the things I think I want and the things I think I need.

For the rest of this week when I am serving myself food I am going to think ‘brahmacharya’ and use self control to know to stop when I am nourished.

5th December

5. Aparigraha = Non Hording

Apari – gra – ha

IMG_5218

Aparigraha means to non hoard, take only what you need, non greediness. Something I’m sure most people can take and put to use in their life. Certainly for me in the physical sense I am well aware that I don’t require so many things, that I should clean out my possessions more and not keep so many items. I am also a person who ‘if the shoe fits, buy it in every colour’ when in reality having one pair of shoes that fit is more than enough.

This yama stems into a lot more than possessions though, I really liked to think about this one in terms of how many thought do people hoard in their minds? How many things from the past are we still holding onto that are no longer serving us?

A great quote that really resonated with me on this one was: “Our journey is about being more deeply involved in life and yet less attached to it”

My next post will be all about the Niyamas – I am also posting daily on Instagram if you want to join in / follow along!

Type soon,

Sarah xx

 

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