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Yoga: The Yamas

There are a number of essential ancient texts for yoga teachers, teachers in training or simply those wanting to live a more yogic lifestyle and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is arguably the master of these.

There’s some speculation about when Patanjali lived (most agree c.200-300 BC) and much mystery around the sage and his life, but the 196 sutras outline a timeless philosophy for life.

Patanjali ‘eight limbs’ of yoga offer a framework for your yoga journey and guidelines for living a meaningful life.  This eight-fold path takes yoga beyond the mat.  Beyond the practice of asana, or postures, and into our behaviours, thoughts and actions.

The first limb, Yama has 5 threads which focus on our moral, ethical and spiritual conduct:

Ahimsa – Non Harming

Ahimsa encourages us to show compassion to all, including ourselves. Beyond the literal meaning of doing no physical harm to another person or creature, considering how we speak to and act towards others and ourselves is a simple, mindful way to do no harm.

More Love Ahimsa Affirmation:

“I show compassion to myself and others”

Satya – Truthfulness

Satya commits us to telling the truth, to ourselves and others.  Not only speaking the truth and engaging in honest communication, but choosing silence when your words may harm others.

More Love Satya Affirmation:

“I am true to myself”

Asteya – Non-stealing

Although it’s very rare that many of us would take someone else’s possession or money from them, Asteya asks us to consider other aspects of ‘taking’ something that’s not freely given to us – other people’s time, trust, attention or free will.

More Love Asteya Affirmation:

“I am grateful for what’s mine”

Bramacharya – Control of the senses

In the traditional sense, Bramacharya is interpreted as celibacy, but a more modern approach implies moderation, not overindulging our senses in anything that takes the place of our connection to our spiritual self. 

More Love Bramacharya Affirmation:

“I live a balanced lifestyle”

 Aparigraha – Non-Possessiveness

In the practice of Aparigraha we release attachment – to negative ideas and stories, to control, to people and material things.  We don’t want what other people have, or take more than we need.  We stop looking for our worth in external sources.

More Love Aparigraha Affirmation:

“I trust in the Universe to provide me with what I need”




Karen Podesta

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