8 Limbs of Yoga: The Yamas

Many of us know what the physical practice of Yoga is, but you would be surprised to know how many people are not familiar with the philosophy behind it.

With a new start to the year, we wanted to start sharing with you how this ancient philosophy has relevance in your life today.

The system of philosophy is called the 8 Limbs of Yoga, and as we share with you how they can be incorporated into your life, as well as the physical practice.

This is what is meant when you hear people say yoga becomes a way of life.

If you want to experience Yoga to its fullest, then consider the philosophical aspects of the Yamas & Niyamas which are part of the 8 limbs of yoga a system that guides you through life. Why?? 

Simply, because these ‘restraints’, or guidelines, can support you on and off the mat to live in peace & harmony with others, but most importantly with yourself.

First up are the Yamas, and the Niyamas, which offer us some social & personal principles or goals that we can work towards to live in peace with others and ourselves.

AHIMSA “non-violence”

…is having a deep respect for all living things, and avoiding violence. 

As many of us start the new year with new intentions, we can sometimes push ourselves well past the comfort zone…which may result in injury, or feelings of frustrations.

Applying Ahimsa in ways that mean being more compassionate with yourself, kinder and more aware of when you are on the edge of that comfort zone can apply to your yoga practice, workout plan, and just about anything.

 

SATYA “truthfulness”

guides us to think, speak, and act with integrity. The word sat means “that which exists, that which is.”

When we speak our truth we should try to ensure we cause the least amount of harm possible. Practicing Satya requires awareness of the effect our words and thoughts have on others and ourselves. So if you know speaking your truth will cause pain or suffering, then silence may be best. This may be easy to do with others but what about your thoughts, words and actions towards yourself? Try applying Sayta in a way that means being more honest, truthful and confident in what you want to express.  Take the time to connect with yourself and honour your truth!

 

ASTEYA “non-stealing”

guides us to not steal, nor have the intent to steal another’s property through action, speech and thoughts. The word a means “not” and steya “stealing”.

When we allow our mind to steal our joy whether that’s in our yoga practice or when we catch ourself in a self-limiting belief in every day life…and sometimes, we get caught up in feelings of jealousy or wanting to do better than others when you see them doing well, and that includes when they appear to be ‘more advanced’ in their yoga practice than you. LET IT GO! 

Be content with where & who you are & be happy for others.. support their journey!

 

BRAHMACHARYA “moderation”

guides us to towards the right use of energy and essentially moderation.

So much of our energy has been directed towards covid, and lockdowns and fear…it’s no wonder many of us feel depleted even though we are doing less than ever before.

Consider for a moment where your energy is most directed. Maybe you’ve been directing your physical energy towards endlessly pushing yourself to be fitter, stronger or skinnier…. Does any of this sound like you? If so, it might be time to look a little closer at that Yama you’ve been avoiding….

In order to be the best version of ourselves and to use our energy in the right way, we need first of all to listen to what our bodies need. After all, to be able to spread our message to the world and really make the most of what we learn from our yoga practice, we need to have enough energy within ourselves.

This is where yoga can provide you with the right tools to support Brahmacharya in all parts of your life, not just on the mat.

 

APARIGRAHA “non-possessiveness”

often translates as ‘non-greed’, ‘non-possessiveness’, and ‘non-attachment’. 

The word ‘graha’ means to take, to seize, or to grab, ‘pari’ means ‘on all sides’, and the prefix ‘a’ negates the word itself – basically, it means ‘non’. This important yama teaches us to take only what we need, keep only what serves us in the moment, and to let go when the time is right. 

Have you ever thought about what you are attached to?

Whether it is your material possessions, your relationships, your chocolate addiction, or…the stories you have told yourself about your own worth?

Can you learn to let go a little and experience the freedom life has to offer when you stop worrying about the outcome? 

See what happens when you apply this yama to your life, see what happens when you just let go.