Yamas - the Roots
Updated: Dec 16, 2018
Change is a struggle at any age. Over time we become rigid, we become set in our ways, we become the “get off my lawn” person, we become a shell of what we want to be, what we want to project out to others. We’ve been hurt, we’ve been dealt a hand of cards that we wish that we could exchange or just hand off to another, the metaphorical cup that we are given has cracked, has overflowed or even been updated and given a bigger one, but we persevere; we get stronger but in the meantime we get off balance. Do you always make time to do something for you? Or is it the kids needed to get to practice so I couldn’t……, or I had to stay late at work because it’s end of the month and……, or I was so tired from XYZ that I just couldn’t…….. You’re mental health is what keeps your body balanced and if there is anything slightly off it is said to cause ailments and illnesses due to the connection with your body.
In What’s in a Name? blog #2, I explained to you why we choose the name Eight Limbs for the blog, and that each limb helps us on the path of liberation. In subsequential blogs we are going to discuss each limb in regards to how it will help us on our own individual path to living an essential life.
As you can see on the diagram of the tree, the Yama represent the roots of the “tree”; so you can see how important learning this “limb” can be; it’s the foundation to your path. If the foundation of your home isn’t solid it doesn’t matter how good the kitchen looks, or the color of the wainscoting in the dining room, it will all crumble under pressure, any wind or storms that come about will erude the foundation quickly and you will end up broken and lost.
Yamas teach us how to behave in the world and how to behave to oneself. They have been described as the general “do’s and don’ts” in a not so strict manner.
Ahimsa- Non-violence or non-harming: In regards to all creatures and ourselves. Physical, mental, and emotional violence is to all be avoided. We do this because of the situations we are put into and how we cause violence due to the anger, the constant judging, and the reactions we give to any given situation. We need to express compassion. Compassion teaches us to except the situations with an open heart and helps us to let go of the negative thoughts. This a hard acceptance that we need to have. Violence isn’t the answer nor will it help get you on the path of liberation.
Satya- Truthfulness or honesty: You are expected to speak the truth all times, unless it goes against the first limb- Ahimsa. If the truth will cause harm to another then it doesn’t need to be spoken. This is a fine balancing act. Be truthful not harmful.
Asteya- Non-stealing: This can literally be described as stealing out of someone’s pocket, being a hoarder, unneeded consumption of natural resources, or stealing someone’s ideas. The main stealing that Patanjali is referring to is the most precious thing that we steal from others is TIME. Asteya encourages self-sufficiency, generosity, and teach us the ability to overcome Lobha, greed.
Brahmacharya-Traditionally speaking it means continence or chasity which refers to conserving one’s sexual energies. Most misinterpret this and cause themselves to stray. The meaning means to not misuse sex; not to use it against someone or the misleading use of it to for personal gain. Instead of going out to the bar and picking up a one nightstand to satisfy a sexual desire, work on a relationship that you currently have that needs attention is better time spent. This goes as a far as how we see the world including animals. (The animal topic is not one I will go into. If this is something you personally would like me to talk about I can through email not through the blog) It’s about are we going to use the resources or invest in them?
Aparigraha- Non-coveting: Letting go of the things we do not need, possessing only what is necessary. Possessions in the end are what destroy us. When we become greedy, Lobha, we lose the ability to see our true self, the Atman; if we are cling to the items that we have we lose the ability to be open to receive what we need.
Everyone practices yoga for a different reason. We all walk to our drums. We are all individual people. We all seek something different from life. We have our own beliefs. We will each take something different from the Yama.
“Seeking out people and experiences we would normally avoid provides a fertile place to learn new things about ourselves and about life.” ― Deborah Adele, Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice
Welcome to Eight Limbs, EssentialZen Yogas’ blog. Here we will grow together and experience a warm inviting yoga community. Here everyone can be free to be yourself and let eight limbs guide you.
And remember: Go without expectations. Set an intention. Breath.
If you have any questions or comments, ideas or thoughts, things you’d like to see on the blog, things you don’t want to see please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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