Yoga is much more than an activity; its a way of life. Some think Yoga is a religious practice, and this is because people who do practice are hooked for life. When one finds yoga they feel empowered by ancient poses, and challenged by their body’s limits. They soon realize that it’s not about the physical asanas, but the lessons that are gained from practicing them. Before the asanas were created, in the 8 limbs of yoga, the Yamas and Niyamas were the first branches of the tree. Yamas are guidelines for ethical standards and moral conducts. These lessons are not only for our own personality check, but a way to treat all those around us. Those without a path can soon forge a new way by living by these 5 Yamas.
- Ahimsa (Kindness/ non-violence): This one may seem obvious, but when put into practice its message has depth. There is the physical practice of non-harming, the self/ego practice, and a practice of understanding and compassion. When anger emerges it is a reaction and an act of fear or non-acceptance. Ahimsa reminds us to swallow our ego reaction and come to come to any situation with an open heart and ears.
- Satya (Truthfulness): The moral undertaking to not lie is easy. But what about when it’s not just lies we tell others, but lies that we tell ourselves. Being truthful to the body/mind when you are tired, but remain firm on completing the task; when you forge an image of what isn’t, rather than seeing things as they are. Practicing not only speaking the truth through our hearts, but live honestly in this way.
- Asteya (Non-Stealing): This goes beyond not paying for items at the store. This can come into play from stealing identities, taking time or joy from someone. It’s recognizing that what is not freely given is not ours to take. We have the chance to overcome greed with this powerful lesson.
- Brahmacharya (Self Control): As always, easy to say hard to do. But with a little self control we see that a little can go a long way. For those who are thinking about food control: know that you are allowed to eat what you want, but eat till your fill, not to your desire. This way of living is true for all aspects of self-control. It’s not about abstaining, but about knowing where your limits are.
- Aparigraha (Non-Attachment): As long as we are living we have attachments. It can be a physical, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional attachments that we cling to. The importance of non-attachment is to not be ruled by worldly possessions. Many people today are glued to their phones and would be lost without them; it is an issue when an object can rule over our needs and happiness so greatly.
Living by these codes can boost our karma into a positive direction. It keeps us balanced in emotion, and mind/body.
Namaste! -Nadia Pinna