If you are new to yoga, you are probably familiar with downward dog and a few other poses but may have yet to learn about the larger principles behind yoga. Yoga is an ancient practice made up not only of poses, asanas, but of 8 limbs that help you live a meaningful and purposeful life. The first of these 8 limbs are the 5 yamas, or moral practices of yoga. These values can help you guide your thoughts and actions on and off the yoga mat. Here is an introduction to the 5 yamas!
What Are The 5 Yamas?
The 5 yamas encompass a number of values you can apply to your yoga practice and life as a whole. These ideas can be interpreted in a number of ways but have a general overarching meaning. The following is an overview of each of the yamas.
1. Ahimsa – Compassion, Non-violence
The first of the 5 yamas is ahimsa, living your life without violence and full of compassion. This practice helps you move away from harmful tendencies and instead find compassion for all living things. Having compassion for yourself can also be a great means of practicing Ahimsa. This may mean not being too hard on yourself and practicing self-love.
2. Satya – Honesty, Truth
Satya, living an honestly and truthfully, is the second yama. Practicing satya means being honest with yourself and those around you. You can incorporate satya into your life in your work, in your relationships, and more. From being open and honest with your friends an family to being truthful with yourself about things that are bringing you down, you can practice this yama in big and small ways!
3. Asteya – Non-stealing
Astenya translates to “non-stealing” and “non-coveting.” At its root, this yama means refraining from taking things that do not belong to you. In a larger sense, practicing asteya means being mindful and not wasteful of the things you use in your life. From making good use of your time at work to being mindful of how you are using other people’s time when they share it with you, practicing astenya may help you live a more mindful and less wasteful life!
4. Brahmacharya – Right Use of Energy
Brahmacharya can be interpreted in a number of different ways. Some practitioners believe Brahmacharya to mean celibacy. However, not all yogis interpret this yama in that way. In modern times, many yogis interpret it to mean the “right use of energy” and channeling your body’s energy for productive uses. This may mean having strong impulse control and not wasting your physical and mental energy on things that are bringing you down.
5. Aparigraha- Detachment
Aparigraha or detachment is the final of the 5 yamas. This idea speaks to the importance of letting go of things that do not serve you. Practicing this value may mean physically cleaning your space and getting rid of things you do not need. It may also mean moving away from self-sabotaging behavior or detaching from negative thoughts through mindfulness and meditation.
At Cody, we believe in harnessing all aspects of yoga to full your mental and physical health. To continue exploring the 8 limbs of yoga, check out our guide to the yamas and niyamas and how to incorporate the yamas into your yoga practice.