Namaskar fellow yogis, teachers, friends and family! Through the years I’ve been so inspired by and learned so much from all of you about the yogic path. Whether you realize it or not, by sharing your struggles, glories and insights you’ve taught me invaluable lessons about how to live well and be a good person… and that is what yoga is all about. You might not know the Sanskrit word for the philosophical point we’ve discussed nor why and how I’m doing some crazy yogic practice, but realize that simply because you’ve contributed to my growth and betterment I consider you part of my yogic path and community.
Sangha is the Sanskrit word for a community or assembly with a common goal, vision or purpose. My sangha (all of you) span oceans and time zones, and may not be able to assemble physically, but I’ve started this blog as a means to assemble at least in cyber space. Our common goal: to live a good life.
Yoga encompasses far more than strange stretches and breathing practices, as many yogis like to say it is the science of life. In this blog I will explore many “off the mat” aspects of yoga and sincerely hope this becomes a dialogue with my yoga sangha, wherein by commenting we continue to enrich each other and share our experience despite physical distance.
With the notion of community in mind, what better topic to start with than the first of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, the Yamas. Yama means social discipline, or code of conduct regarding how we treat each other and the world around us. While the Yamas were first written down in the Yoga Sutras by the sage Patanjali circa 200 BC, these are very much universal laws respected in all cultures.
The five Yamas include Ahimsa (non violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non stealing), Brahmacharya (celibacy) and Aparigraha (non possessiveness).
In reviewing my notes on the Yamas and various writings about them, the overall message I get is: life becomes easier when we follow this code of conduct. It only takes a few minutes to look at each of these yamas and pick a specific example for each wherein practicing the yama makes life easier.
I’ll start: Nonviolence includes thoughts, words and actions. The minute I stop the negative thought about the annoying thing my coworker did, my body relaxes and my mind is free to think about what excites me. Truthfulness includes being honest to others and yourself. If I’m honest with myself about the fact that eating chocolate after dinner disturbs my sleep, I’m more motivated not to eat it and get a better night sleep. Non stealing mean taking anything without permission. I’ve always struggled with being late, which when it comes to my clients is a form of stealing their time. Being on time makes everybody’s life easier and wipes away the guilt and fluster that comes from being late.
Celebacy in a wider sense refers to a freedom from the cravings of all sensual pleasures. We become trapped by thinking pleasure only comes via the senses. Bliss is pleasure without sensual stimulation and tapping into the feeling of bliss frees me from the burden of fulfilling any craving. Finally, non possesiveness deals with our tendency to accumulate and possess more. If I don’t need to possess those really hot new shoes I also don’t need to stress about how expensive they are and spend time, money and energy on them, and automatically life is easier.
Doing this is quite simple and basic, but a great way to keep these values in our thoughts and actions. As Guruji at Yoga Vidya Dahm said, these rules are instinctual and we’ve only learned to break them, therefore we can learn to follow them again.
I look forward to hearing about how the yamas make your life easier!
Hari om tat sat