As part of the 8 limbs of yoga, there are two sets of yogic principals, suggestions to guide us in living a happy, healthy life; the 5 Yamas, and the 5 Niyamas. Below, I have included the basic definition of each Yama, then added the translation according to Nischala Joy Devi from her book The Secret Power of Yoga. She defines the Yamas and Niyamas as inspired offerings, not commandments, given to us gently and respectfully. Click on the words below and get more detailed information on each of the Yamas.
The 5 Yamas are suggestions to help us relate to others in society:
1) Ahimsa (non harming) Show reverence, love, and compassion for all.
2) Satya (truthfulness) To live with integrity.
3) Asteya (non-stealing) To show generosity and honesty.
4) Brahmacharya (celibacy, not squandering energy) Live in balance and moderation.
5) Aparigraha (non-grasping) Cultivate awareness of the abundance in your life.
The Yamas are yoga’s ethical guidelines laid out in the first limb of the eightfold path, passed down by the Indian sage, Patanjali. The yamas are considered the foundation for those following the path of yoga yet they are simple and can be attempted by anyone. Like a map written to guide us on life’s journey, the yamas are things not to do, or restraints. They are oriented toward our public behavior and allow us to coexist harmoniously with others.
The Yamas are to be practiced at all times. This may be difficult but worth the effort. Following the yamas as best we can make our lives flow in a harmonious, gratifying and joyful way. Try choosing one yama to focus on for a period of time (weeks, months) and then reflect on how that Yama has effected your life. The more we practice the Yamas, the more conscious, and aware we became of ourselves.