Yoga Philosphy- a basic introduction to the Yamas

by Iva deMartelly


Yoga has eight limbs. The first limb, called the Yamas, is a set of  five ethical rules that suggest how the yogi should relate to his or her surroundings.


1. Ahisma- Compassion

Loosely translated, the word Ahisma means abstaining from violence of thought, word, or deed. However, Ahisma carries more than simply abstaining from violence- it also means to mindfully practice compassion. To practice Ahisma in your day to day life, try to be mindful of the meaning behind the words you speak, take deep breaths before you act from anger or anxiety, and even practice self compassion by taking time out of your day to unplug from social media and indulge in a bath, a movie, or a workout!


2. Satya- Truth

Satya loosely translated means “to speak the truth”. When I first learned about this Yama, my mind immediately went to Ahisma. Isn’t it all to often that we hurt the people we love when we speak the truth? I believe that Satya can be considered through the glasses of Ahisma. When we are speaking unnecessary truth that can potentially cause pain, it is much preferable to remain silent. Satya is very important in relationships. Satya should be the foundation of every relationship- whether that be to your president, your company, your brother, your friend, your lover. Once Satya is lost, the sacredness of this bond is broken.


3. Asteya - Non stealing

Astesya means simply not to take what isn’t yours. This can be as broadly applied as not manipulating people’s trust, to as literally as stealing objects that are not yours. We  can practice Asteya in day to day life by respecting privacy, reputation, and time, by refraining from gossip, divulging secrets, and being respectful of personal space.


4. Brahmachayara- Control

Brahamacharya is mostly used in the context of sexual abstinence. Not in a virginal sense, necessarily, but in a mindful way. Brahamacharya suggests that we should be very picky in whom we chose to be with in the most intimate way possible. It is a way to move towards to truth, to pick partners in love who are beneficial to our spiritual growth, and a form of self respect by believing that we deserve only the best.


5. Aparigrha- Taking what you need

Many times in a world where so much is available to ourselves, we find it very easy to overindulge. This can be in terms of food, unhealthy relationships, shopping, coffee, drugs, alcohol, or sex, and if it continues unchecked can manifest into addiction. Aparigraha is the practice of taking only what we need, and exercising the self control to do so. By practicing letting go of unhealthy or excess things or relationships, we are able to purify our bodies and clear our minds.


Yoga philosophy is anything but dogmatic or strict- I find lots of ways that I can incorporate it in my day to day life. Hopefully you guys are also able to!

Shake it up as always,



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