The first step on this journey through the eight fold path of yoga, is actually five steps. In fact the first two steps on the eight-fold path can sometimes make this whole learning of the yoga philosophy and sutras very confusing. So don’t give up after reading this first post, the steps actually get easier after the first two (The yamas and niyamas)!
If you reflect back on our last post, where the eight limbs of yoga are listed you will see the first one is called “Yamas”. The yamas actually break down into five moral principles which I will explain in this post.
- Ahimsa is non-violence. This can be summarized as doing as little harm to yourself and others as possible. This can extend out from humanity, and include treating all living creatures and the planet with respect. Live with compassion, and help bring peace where there is anger or violence.
- Satya is truth. This can mean speaking your truth, being honest with others, or living your truth. There is no need to lie, or hide behind false pretenses of who you are.
- Asteya is non-stealing. Obviously this means do not take what is not yours. I like to put a spin on this yama, and include giving as a part of it. To share or offer what you can to the world is a wonderful way to move away from ‘non-stealing’.
- Bramacharya is self-control. In the past this is the yama that was translated as ‘celebacy’. Recently this translation has changed to encompass more then just not having sex. It is really about learning self control, and not letting ‘lust’ take over our thoughts, actions or lives. It includes self-awareness of all our senses and recognizing the control they can have over us unconsciously. Everything in moderation!
- Aprigraha is non-possessiveness. Truly we own nothing but ourselves. We have no right to control or manipulate others, or be possessive of anything on this planet. My spin on this yama, is to include gratitude. Always be grateful for what you do have.
These five moral principles make our first step on the eight-fold path of yoga. Tomorrow we will cover our second step, the niyamas, which include five more principles of living.