Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Five "Don'ts" of the Yogic Discipline: Post 2

In my last post, I explained the origin of eight-limbed yoga and described the very first idea in the first limb. The first limb, Yama, makes up the things you should restrain from when trying to attain enlightenment.

Besides non-violence (Ahimsa), there are four more things Patanjali says we should restrain from.

Satya is the practice of truth, so restraining from lying. This doesn't only mean not lying to others (which is a basic moral principle we learn as small children), it encompasses being honest with ourselves as well as accepting the concept of Truth, the fact that there is a greater universal truth to align ourselves with.

I feel a particular connection to Satya simply because my name (Alicia) means honesty. And, because my parents handed down a version of my mother's middle name, Alice, I feel a level of responsibility in upholding and representing this meaning.

Mom (Martha Alice) and Daughter (Alicia Marie)

While many of us associate lying and honesty with the things we say, it also applies to the things we do. It is important to be honest with ourselves about jobs, relationships, the value of things, etc, in order to find happiness.

The concept of a greater Truth is one I am still churning over in my mind. I wasn't raised with any type of faith or religion and, until now, I'd subscribed to the theory of science, however, I've always believed in souls and a level of spirituality. So, for now, I'm still formulating my own philosophy on this one.

Asteya is the practice of not-stealing. It goes hand-in-hand with the next ideal within the Yamas, which is Aparigraha, the principle of not hoarding. Again, most of us will associate this with material things. And, yes, it is good to not steal or hoard those too. But Asteya and Aparigraha also refer to attention and energy. In order to become aligned with greater enlightenment, we have to refrain from always having the focus on ourselves. For instance, if a friend asks how your day is going or how something in your life is going, it's nice to fill them in and then return the energy and ask how that person is doing as well. Be generous with our attention, focus, and support.

Another part of Aparigraha that also relates to Ahimsa, being kind to ourselves, is to not hoard food. 

Lastly, Brahmacarya is sexual responsibility and moderation. This means respecting your partner and understanding that there is a heart on the other end of the physical activity. It's important to be kind to it and respect it. And, not be frivolous with our own hearts when it comes to intimacy, either.

Between Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Aparigraha, and Barhmacarya, which Yama do you most relate to and why?

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