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The Yamas | No. 1 of the 8 Limbs of Yoga

The Yamas are the 1st of the 8-Limbs of yoga.




The 5 Yamas


Ahimsa - Non-harming


Satya - Truthfulness


Asteya - Non-stealing


Brahmacharya - Restraint, including sexual restraint


Aparigraha - Freedom from greed, non-attachment



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The first of the eight limbs is the Yamas followed by the Niyamas. The yamas are simply personal observances that really set the heart and mind on the right path. You're not really practicing yoga unless the intention is correct so you could be doing a whole bunch of postures, but if we're not having the intention of yoga it's not yoga. A lot of yoga classes you might be doing things that look like yoga but if the intention is not to create harmony and peace within the self, to create love toward others, to heal, to heal others, to find a meditative inward looking space, then it's really not yoga, it's just movement to music. That's really something that we should consider as we call ourselves yogis, as we embark on yoga, and especially teach yoga.


The first of the the yamas is ahimsa, which is non-harming or the positive of it would be loving-kindness. All of yoga starts with a really strong perspective which says, "I am taking a stance in my life that says that I will not harm other beings, I will not harm myself, and this is in words acts, deeds, thoughts; and I'm going to send loving kindness to others in all that I do and to myself in thoughts, words, acts, deeds, all of the above."


When you take it into perspective, yoga has really been misconstrued in the West because you go to "yoga poses class" and you learn a few postures and you breathe you're like, "Oh I'm so sore," and yeah that's definitely part of it, but we've kind of made a mistake in not really explaining to people what this really is. What it really is is a spiritual discipline, so if you go to yoga class and you're hurting yourself or you're trying to compete with your neighbor or you're pissed off with that person, you're not practicing yoga because you're not practicing any of the limbs of yoga starting with Ahimsa.


Ahimsa is the first of the first Yamas, which is the first limb of yoga because I think it's really that important to our practice. There are so many other Yamas, which are simply ways of being in the World, which say that I'm not going to steal from people, I'm not going to harm others and things like that. I'm going to be restrained in my behaviors and my actions, so I'm not going to be wild out of control. I'm going to practice some level of self-control, sexual restraint, restraint over my words my thoughts, my actions, even over my money.



The Next Limb -> The Niyamas

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