The first limb of yoga is the yamas (Sanskrit: यम), the second limb is its complement, the niyamas. They represent a series of "right living" or ethical rules within yoga. Yamas means "reining in" or "control."
As a group of us discussed “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele, what really came to light is the harm, non-truths and stealing we do to ourselves. It seems so much easier to care and be kind to others. We have to work even harder to take care of ourselves, constantly finding a balance and recalibrating ourselves.
Here is a summary of the Yamas:
Ahimsa (Non-Harming), the first of the yamas. Seems so easy. But look deeper. Are you kind to yourself? Do you nurture your health, your sleep? Do you spend too much time on social media? (Irony, I know!)How do you incorporate ahimsa into your daily life?
The second yama, satya, "truth" or "not lying," can be obvious and subtle. It is honest words and actions to those around us. It is being honest with ourselves. It is first, doing no harm. It is being quiet when the truth might harm. It is knowing when to back off a pose, when to go in deeper.
The third yama is asteya, or "non-stealing." Asteya encourages us to act from a place of abundance. To give instead of take. This, too, can be subtle or not. It should be obvious that we would not walk into someones home or place of business and start taking items. But what about stealing someones time? What about stealing someones energy? How can you act from a place of abundance and not scarcity? How can you, too, not steal from yourself, your precious time and energy?
The fourth yama is aparigraha or "non-possessiveness." This is a powerful emotion for many. How do we detach, how do we not covet, stay away from jealously? One method is mudita. Mudita is sympathetic or unselfish joy, or joy in the good fortune of others. It is finding pleasure in others well-being. It is cultivating a heart that rejoices in other's accomplishments. It is cheering the student who does beautiful handstand in the middle of the room.
The fifth and final yamas is brahmacharya. Brahmacharya translates as the concept of celibacy or, when a person controls his citta, abstaining through word, thought, and deed from physical or sensual pleasures. Applied to a more modern lifestyle, it is the art of sustaining energy, and not depleting your vitality. This can easily tie back to the first four yamas, not wasting time on jealously, or "stealing" others or your own time. What so you do to maintain energy?