The Yamas – introduction

This Fall, I have had the chance to continue teaching yoga at work with an amazing person, my friend and colleague Joanna. We’ve taken our dear students through three of the yamas so far, at the rate of one per month. The yamas, per Patanjali’s sutras, consist in the first of the eight-limbed path to happiness. There are five yamas and they can be presented as a set of restraints or code of conduct (click to read previous posts on the subject: “To strive to live by” and “Life’s Code of Conduct”)

Why this is so interesting to me, I don’t know. Perhaps because I truly believe that by making small changes in our everyday life and behaviors can we take bigger steps towards living a fuller, happier life? Maybe. But why do we need a code of conduct, or do we?

For as long as humans have existed, suffering has thrived. It has been so, it seems, mostly because we remain insatiated, always wanting more, thinking that the next best thing will make us happy. In reality, we are often the cause of our own suffering through the actions we take and the everyday decisions we make. Patanjali’s yamas are there to help us make better choices along the way so that we may lead a happier life.

And so, as simple as they may seem, these five yamas can greatly influence the outcome of our lives. The next few posts will be a dedicated reflection on each of these: Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (non-lying), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (honouring yourself), and Aparigraha (non-coveting).

I invite you to share your point of view and your opinion on this subject. However, before going any further, one principle will need to be kept in mind: “self-observation without criticism” as Swami Kripalu often reminded his students. As we look inward, it can be hard to accept what we see, and it often takes a lot of courage to do so. But, only by knowing where we stand can we move forward. Namaste.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The first Yama: Ahimsa or the path to non-violence « happinessforall

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