Spiritual Traditions

Yoga Philosophy Basics: The 5 Yamas

yogaThe knowledge you obtain by exercising these 5 yamas will make it possible for you to convert negative and destructive energies into calmness and inner peace. You can see the short descriptions of each yama below with some guidelines on how to practice them.


1. Non-Harming (Ahimsa)

According to Sanskrit the prefix a in the word Ahimsa means negation, rejection, "not". The "himsa" means damaging, harming, rudeness, killing, violence. The first yama Ahimsa practices non-damaging and non-violence. Wise men tell that Ahimsa is the first and essential part of living in harmony with world around and world inside.

At a profounder level, Ahimsa is not a conscious process, it rather goes from practicing yoga. With progressing of our life and yoga practicing we find out the inner tranquility that has always been there, showing our true nature. So the desire not to damage and prevent hurt or violence is natural in order to keep peace. We understand that tranquil inner state has everyone, so we don't want to harm anyone.

2. Sincerity (Satya)

From Sanskrit "sat" means being, existence. Satya is a yama that promotes sincerity and truth as a reflection of what things are in their real "being".

3. Non-Stealing (Asteya)

From Sanskrit the word steya is equivalent to English "stealing, plunder", and prefix a means negation, rejection, "not". Asteya teaches not to steal. It concerns all the things from stolen material stuff, to stolen or prevented emotions, as well as information from others.

4. Moderation (Brahmacharya)

Being literal, Brahmacharya means "going with God in mind". In reality it implicates deep analysis of the emotions and feelings of the person's inner world and sets free from any ties, affections and dependencies. It is said that when our conscious is free from emotions, life burdens and senses - a pure joy can be found there. It includes meditations and patience.

5. Non-Possessiveness (Aparigraha)

From Sanskrit Graha means "to grab" and "pari" means "things". Aparigraha literally says "not taking things," as well as non-possessiveness, non-consumption. It makes us being in harmony with the things we always want to possess. It helps to develop independence from things, so they don't rule our mind.

The yoga has a statement that you can use all the things in the world, but not possess. It is a main idea of Aparigraha. When we want to own something, it means that we have already been owned by the stuff we desire. It is a destructive behavior. However, if we just use things, without wanting them more and more, without addiction to buying stuff, but simply by using it, they have no power to boost your greed and pettiness.


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