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The Yoga Yamas: An Overview Of The First Limb Of Yoga


In the event you’ve been training yoga for some time, you could be questioning the place yoga comes from and what’s behind the poses. As we are going to clarify on this article, there’s a lot extra to this historic non secular observe than the shapes you make on the mat.

The eight limbs of yoga are a great start line for studying about yogic philosophy. Specifically, the primary limb, often known as the Yamas, affords very important knowledge on how as yoga practitioners, we should always act on the planet round us.

So when you’re feeling referred to as to advance in your non secular progress or private growth journey and begin training yoga on and off the mat, learn on.

An Introduction To Yoga Philosophy

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are among the many most important teachings in yoga philosophy. The textual content is a group of 195 Sanskrit sutras, compiled in the course of the early centuries CE by Indian sage Patanjali.

Some of the distinguished teachings within the yoga sutras is the eight limbs of yoga (or the Ashtanga yoga eight-limbed system). The eight limbs clarify how we will attain the purpose of yoga, which is to unite the thoughts, physique, and spirit. The eight limbs are:

  • Yama (ethical codes or disciplines)
  • Niyama (observances)
  • Asana (bodily postures)
  • Pranayama (respiratory methods)
  • Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
  • Dharana (focus)
  • Dhyana (meditation)
  • Samadhi (enlightenment or bliss)

Learning Patanjali’s yoga sutras reveals that almost all western yoga courses are instructing an incomplete observe. The bodily yoga poses they closely deal with are simply one of many eight limbs a yoga practitioner ought to observe.

Following the Yamas and Niyamas, training breath management, and studying to meditate are equally as essential as performing yoga postures. Subsequently, the yoga sutras present that training these moral ideas is important if you wish to authentically and absolutely observe yoga.

What Are The 5 Yamas?

The 5 Yamas are greatest described as ethical codes for interacting with the world. Yama, in Sanskrit, means “restraint.” Therefore, the 5 Yamas are issues it is best to restrain from doing to expertise harmonious relationships with others and the universe.

Nevertheless, the sutras don’t current them as ethical commandments however fairly an perception into the outcomes of doing or not doing them. For instance, the third Yama, Asteya, reveals that if we steal from others, we hurt ourselves and them. Subsequently, having data of the yoga Yamas may help us make higher selections and acquire extra self-awareness.

The Patanjali’s yoga sutra that outlines the 5 Yamas is present in verse 30 of Chapter 2. They’re:

  • Ahimsa (non-harming or non-violence)
  • Satya (truthfulness)
  • Asteya (non-stealing)
  • Brahmacharya (celibacy or’ right use of power)
  • Aparigraha (non-greed or non-hoarding)

Let’s take a better take a look at the 5 yoga Yamas and the way these historic teachings relate to our everyday life.


Ahimsa interprets to “non-violence” or “non-harming” however extends past bodily motion. Subsequently, even when you describe your self as somebody who “wouldn’t damage a fly,” you should still not be training this Yama.

Ahimsa is about exhibiting loving kindness to all residing issues by ideas, phrases, and deeds. Subsequently, it doesn’t solely imply to do no hurt to others bodily, however to talk variety phrases and take heed to any dangerous ideas you might have, too.

The trendy world presents us with many stressors to which we reply by blaming others; we might curse the one that cuts us off in visitors or complain about our boss. Even when the opposite individual is the one within the flawed, Ahimsa says that responding with dangerous ideas, actions, or phrases should still lead to unhealthy karma. In accordance with the eight-limbed path, emotional violence (hurtful ideas and feedback) aren’t any extra acceptable than bodily violence.

The Yama additionally means training non-violence in the direction of ourselves. Whereas we might not deliberately hurt ourselves with a knife, many people damage ourselves every day by pondering negatively and even speaking badly about ourselves. So to dwell this Yama means to catch once we say or suppose we aren’t adequate and exchange it with self-compassion.


Satya interprets to truthfulness, which, as you may have most likely guessed, means to restrain from mendacity. Nevertheless, like the entire Yamas, it goes a lot deeper, which you’ll uncover once we break down the phrase additional. The phrase ‘sat’ actually interprets as ‘true essence‘ or ‘true nature’ however can be related to the time period ‘unchangeable.’

We frequently see what we imagine to be the reality as absolute and unchangeable. Nonetheless, Satya invitations us to take a look at issues in a different way. Our ideas, feelings, and moods change continuously, but, these are the issues that create our beliefs and our “reality.” Subsequently, whenever you genuinely perceive Satya, you begin to see your beliefs from a special perspective, understanding that nothing is absolute.

Yoga observe helps us see issues from a special perspective. Via asana, pranayama, and meditation, we observe discovering stillness and creating house in our minds. This enables new ideas and insights to enter and open our minds to the true actuality of a state of affairs we beforehand couldn’t see.

With out yoga observe and self-reflection, our minds can twist actuality and inform us issues are worse than they are surely. This causes us to overact with hateful phrases, ideas, or actions (going towards Ahimsa) and prevents us from experiencing a tranquil interior life.

Subsequently, Satya isn’t just about restraining from mendacity to others but in addition about uncovering our personal reality. It additionally sends the message that to be truthful to others, we should first be sincere with ourselves.


Asteya interprets as non-stealing. Whereas most of us know that stealing or robbing others’ possessions is flawed, the which means of Asteya additionally encompasses the act of non-stealing from the atmosphere and ourselves.

Subsequently, you possibly can say that Asteya means to chorus from doing something which will take mom nature out of concord. Nevertheless, with a subject as broad as sustainability, training Asteya can vary from utilizing reusable grocery luggage to stop air pollution to going vegan to stop rainforests from being cleared for animal agriculture.

So how can we observe Asteya in the direction of ourselves? Asteya is carefully linked to Ahimsa. Once we suppose self-deprecating ideas, we aren’t solely harming ourselves, however we’re additionally self-sabotaging. For instance, think about you see an advert in your dream job, for which you may have the {qualifications} and expertise.

When you have low self-worth, your thoughts will begin telling you all kinds of the reason why you might be “not adequate” for the position and the way they gained’t make use of you. Now, suppose you enable the detrimental self-talk and can’t rise above it. In that case, you aren’t solely hurting your soul; you’re stealing the chance and success you deserve from your self.


Brahmacharya is the Yama that folks wrestle to grasp probably the most and discover related in our fashionable life. Brahmacharya is often translated as celibacy, one thing that historic yogis would observe to progress down the yogic path and expertise union with the universe.

Nevertheless, probably the most correct translation of Brahmacharya is ‘conduct which ends up in Brahman.’ In Hinduism and yogic teachings, Brahman is ‘the creator’ or, extra merely, the next energy. So Brahmacharya may be seen because the ‘proper use of power.’ It’s believed when you use and direct your energy (together with sexual power) in the best means, you’ll change into nearer to God.

When it comes to sexual power, training Brahmacharya within the twenty first century might be seen as defending your power by being conscious of the individuals you may have sexual relations with. Or in different phrases, it’s about choosing your sexual companions fastidiously, as there’s a perception that we devour the power our sexual companions carry.

Nevertheless, in a extra basic sense, Brahmacharya is about directing your power away from exterior needs that may hurt your bodily and psychological well being. These embody quick meals, playing, ingesting, and medicines. Through the use of your power accurately and searching for happiness inside fairly than externally, you’ll expertise extra peace and pleasure.


The Sanskrit phrase Aparigraha means non-greed and non-possessiveness. So this Yama refers to not gathering and hoarding materials possessions (one thing many people are responsible of) and never making an attempt to manage others.

Aparigraha shouldn’t be about renouncing all our possessions and changing into monks, although. As an alternative, Aparigraha teaches us to take simply what we’d like fairly than be grasping. For instance, when you’ve ever been to an all-you-can-eat buffet, you might have taken extra meals than you possibly can eat. This most likely resulted in wasted meals or overeating and feeling unhealthy. Both means, you probably discovered your lesson and took much less meals the following time.

We will observe the precept of non-greed in all elements of our life, not simply by discovering self-discipline at buffets. Greed stems from a deep-seated shortage mentality, the idea that there’s not sufficient. This leads us to struggle towards others for promotions and pay rises at work or purchase extra meals from the grocery retailer as quickly because the information mentions potential shortages.

The important thing to mastering Aparigraha is altering that mentality and pondering from an abundance mindset. The necessity for competitors or hoarding diminishes whenever you imagine there’s greater than sufficient to go round. To succeed in this mindset, you could let go of your present expectations round cash and attachments to your materials possessions. When you possibly can launch the will for outer wealth, that’s when you’ll expertise true interior wealth.

How To Incorporate The Yamas Into Yoga Apply

When you perceive the Yamas, you see what a wonderful software for self-study they’re. We mentioned how you can observe Yamas in every day life, however how are you going to observe them in your yoga mat?


As Ahimsa entails the best way we deal with ourselves, take heed to what your thoughts tells you throughout your yoga observe and the tendencies you may have. For instance, do you are likely to push your self additional in a yoga pose even when you really feel ache within the physique? Or do you mechanically dismiss making an attempt extra superior postures due to the idea that you’re not adequate?

There are numerous methods we will trigger hurt to ourselves on the mat, each bodily and emotionally. So to observe this Yama throughout your yoga observe, set the intention to deal with your self with love, respect, and compassion.

Take time in every posture to note how your physique feels and what it asks for. After some time, you’ll begin listening to whether or not your physique is telling you to go deeper or again away. This manner, you’ll stop hurt and transfer by your observe, giving your physique exactly what it wants.


In yoga remedy, each Ahimsa and Satya are carefully associated. Typically, to observe Ahimsa (respecting our physique) means to observe Satya (accepting the reality) too. For instance, we should first be sincere concerning our physique’s limitations. Then we will make the best selections about how we deal with ourselves.

Accepting the reality additionally entails acknowledging that our our bodies and minds are always altering. Someday, we could also be versatile sufficient to realize the complete splits. Nevertheless, one other day, our hamstrings may have extra tightness, stopping us from doing the posture.

In the event you can settle for that there will likely be ups and downs in your observe, like in every day life, you’ll have the ability to connect with your true self, making discovering peace inside a lot simpler. So to observe Satya in your every day observe, set the intention to honor and settle for how your physique and thoughts are feeling on that exact day.


You could suppose Asteya is a Yama that can’t be practiced on the mat, however this isn’t the case. One approach to describe stealing is wanting greater than you deserve or are entitled to. Typically in a yoga class, we might take a look at the extra superior practitioners and want we may do the postures they’ll or with as a lot ease and charm as them.

This sense could also be on account of an absence of persistence or the will to succeed in a sophisticated degree with out adequate effort and time. Nevertheless, if there was a approach to do each yoga pose completely with out placing in years of observe, this could be stealing.

What’s extra, when you try a difficult posture if you find yourself new to the observe, you possibly can find yourself hurting your self, going towards Ahimsa too. So to observe Asteya, set the intention to honor the place you might be proper now and deal with the method of the journey, not the vacation spot.

Committing to being non-judgemental and non-competitive in a yoga class will assist in different methods too. For instance, you’ll be much less prone to examine your self with the opposite college students, wishing your physique regarded like theirs.


As Brahmacharya is about utilizing and directing your power the best means, training this Yama on the mat means specializing in the observe’s deep advantages fairly than the superficial ones. Subsequently, it is best to see yoga as a holistic software for well being, wellbeing, and non secular growth fairly than as a approach to get match and create a pleasant physique.

A method to do that is to include extra meditation, pranayama, and spirituality in your classes, fairly than focusing solely on the bodily actions. You may additionally attend courses at a yoga studio fairly than a health club. On this setting, you’ll obtain a extra full and well-rounded observe, permitting you to get extra in contact together with your interior self.

Subsequently, to observe Brahmacharya, set an intention to observe yoga in a balanced means, benefitting your thoughts, spirit, and physique.


Aparigraha is about letting go of expectations and the necessity to really feel in management, which might considerably assist us on the mat. Setting targets in your asana observe is superb, because it helps to maintain you centered and progress additional. Nevertheless, suppose you set unrealistic expectations, like mastering the forearm stand in a single week. In that case, disappointment and detrimental self-talk are all you’ll find yourself with.

Subsequently, it’s greatest to set intentions based mostly on a sense you need to domesticate throughout your observe fairly than a form you need to grasp. It will make it easier to get out of the shortage mindset and break the idea that it is advisable obtain particular postures by sure occasions. By approaching your observe with an perspective of abundance, you’ll have the ability to observe with non-attachment to the outcomes. Thus, you’ll benefit from the course of (and the outcomes) way more.

Remaining Ideas

As you possibly can see, the Yamas present a path to self-realization. By being aware about the way you act in the direction of others, you additionally begin to deal with your self higher. Once you begin residing the Yamas, you start your journey to a extra peaceable, joyful, and moral life. From right here, you possibly can be taught in regards to the second of the eight limbs of yoga and the following stage of your non secular growth; the 5 Niyamas.



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