Patanjali’s ancient text titled, “The Yoga Sutras,” describes the Yamas and Niyamas as a way to live with respect, peace and purity in order to further oneself along a spiritual path.
The Yamas relate to our inner world and how we operate. The Niyamas are the outer world and how we operate. They are principles that can be adopted for any spiritual practice as they are a foundation of morals and ethics to live a conscientious life. This relates to how you interact with the world & yourself through behaviors and habits.
1️⃣Ahimsa = non-violence
2️⃣Satya = honesty, truthfulness
3️⃣Asteya = non-stealing
4️⃣Brahmacharya = conserve energy
5️⃣Aparigraha = non-attachment
✨In more detail…
Non-violence, non-harming. This includes emotional, physical and mental violence to yourself or to others. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Have love and compassion for all beings.
Truth. Honesty. Speak the honest truth, always. Before you speak think to yourself, “Is it true, is it kind, is it necessary?” If not then maybe it’s better left unsaid. Will what you say be helpful or harmful to someone else? A lot of words are unnecessary and cause harm to others. Speak with love and compassion to all beings.
Non-stealing. No theft. Refrain from stealing from others in all forms: physical items, copying someone else’s homework, stealing an idea, etc. Beyond the immediate “refrain from stealing” comes also the feeling of greed, entitlement and feeling incomplete. When we feel we are not good enough we desire what others have. When we lose sight of being grateful for what we do have we feel entitled to take more. We become greedy and only think of ourselves. This Yama invites us to be grateful for what we have and to act with love and compassion to all.
Conserving energy to progress in spiritual practice. Also relating to celibacy. This relates to directing our energy for our spiritual practice, to be the best versions of ourselves and to be in touch with and live our life’s purpose. Let us direct our energy to something positive and beneficial rather than negative. Think before you act, “Is it helpful or harmful?” Brahmacharya reminds us to be aware of the divine power within us and how we want to use it. This also relates to the books we read, movies we watch, forms of entertainment we seek and the type of people we surround ourselves with. Choose wisely. What you choose to do can drain you of your energy. Think about how bright you want to shine your inner light, don’t waste your light on negativity, hurtful or draining experiences.
Non-attachment. Release the attachment for material items, experiences and people. Our attachment to the next new thing leads us to greed. We will always be wanting the next new thing and will never be lastingly happy. Whether it be a new girlfriend or boyfriend, new clothes, new travel plans, etc. we get attached to the need and desire for things. We lose site of our own true happiness from within. Also relating to the need for reciprocation: give something to someone without the need for praise or recognition. Do what you feel is right out of the kindness of your heart without an attachment to the reaction from others. This also relates to purchasing items. Do you really need the item, is the value worth it, will it bring you joy? When we lessen the amount of “things” we own we declutter our minds. We may have needed something at one time in the past but instead of hoarding it let it be passed onto someone else to benefit from when you no longer use it.
These Yamas are reminders on how we operate in the world. How we can make efforts to living a loving life to ourselves and others.
✨Keep shining your light and spreading love and kindness to all beings.
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