“By the practice of the limbs of Yoga, the impurities dwindle away and there dawns the light of wisdom, leading to discriminative discernment.”
YS 2.28 (Satchidananda translation)
Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start, as Maria Von Trapp would say. (Fun fact – big tough FY looooves “The Sound of Music”, I kid you not).
So we will begin our investigation of the 8 limbs of yoga with the very first one – yama or “abstinence/refraining”.
Yama (and I’m not talking about the yoga “talent agency” here) is composed of five principles:
Ahimsa – non-violence
Satya – truthfulness
Asteya – non-stealing
Brahmacharya – celibacy, control over energy
Aparigraha – non-coveting or stealing
Each of these tenets will be discussed in future posts, but for right now let’s talk a little bit about the concept of abstension. Yama is the first limb and that’s gotta mean something. Why is the yogi’s path first marked by a list of DO NOT DO! Isn’t yoga about freedom, you say? Well, freedom comes out of discipline, liberation emerges from structure. More on that - here!
Every great religion or philosophy includes a set of moral codes, just think about the 10 commandments, really not so far off from the yamas, right?
When a person or a society is truly aligned within the structure of proper and righteous rules, peace and order reigns.
As a practitioner of yoga, the yamas offer us guidelines for how best to use our energy, focus and attention. By refraining from activities that squander our energy, we will have more available to use in the conscious pursuit and practice of Divine Service and Union.