Yamas – The Restraints

California Poppy

The restraints, or yamas, in yoga are those things which lead us to acting peacefully toward others around us. When I say others, I also mean nature and the Earth. The yamas are part of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras where the writings guide us to restrain ourselves in a way that is in harmony with living peacefully. We gently guide ourselves to practice yoga, as a lifestyle, and the yamas are included in this so that we  may free ourselves from burdens that non-restraint can create.

There a five principal yamas outlined in the Yoga Sutras. They are a simple list of “non-doing” or “don’ts”.

~ Ahimsa: not harming others. This can be as simple as not saying something negative, or as profound as being a vegetarian.

~ Asteya: not stealing. This would seem to be an obvious yama, my parents taught me to not take what isn’t ours – but how difficult is it in this day and age of our information technology to “not’ get a free download, IE: illegal, of a song or a movie and convince ourselves that it’s not really stealing?

~ Satya: not lying. This can be a tough one, as in when your friend asks if her new haircut looks good. Not lying does not mean it is OK to forget about the first yama, not harming others, but being honest in a way that is non-confrontational or disrespectful. And remember, your taste is not the only opinion that matters!

~ Brahmacharya: not wasting our energy. This can also be aligned with being celibate, or practicing a pose without forcing ourselves into it and wasting effort and energy.

~ Aparigraha: not ‘grasping’ or coveting. A good example of this would be the envy we feel when our friend receives a promotion and we cannot seem to garner the right amount of happiness for them.

Reviewing the yamas helps our growth in yoga on and off the mat. Each of the yamas can apply in class, just as well as it can in our day-to-day living. Look closely at the restraints recommended by Patanjali; there is always something to learn here.


About yogagirlsherri

I am a 200-HR RYT certified yoga instructor. I teach vinyasa primarily but also teach seniors, yoga nidra, restorative, pranayama and meditation. I have a passion for life, all things yoga and dogs. Drop me a questions, line, comment - I'll be happy to hear from you! Namaste View all posts by yogagirlsherri

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