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First Limb of Yoga - Yama or Social Duties

The first limb of yoga is the yama.  Consider these to be ethical teaching, like a code of conduct, in regards to the environment in which we live.  They help us to practice restraint in our daily lives.  There are five yamas to learn about.  They are ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, and aparigraha.  When put into practice these five teachings help to bring us closer to enlightenment and inner peace. 


AHIMSA - Taking a look at the first yama, ahimsa, meaning non-violence.  When you consciously choose to walk the path of non-violence, you are choosing to become more peaceful within.  This can manifest to a more peaceful outside as well.  While some yogis interpret this to include a vegan diet ( no harm or violence to animals), practicing ahimsa could be as simple as refusing to partake in gossip with a coworker or retraining your mind to stop the negative thoughts and self sabotage. Ahimsa is refusing to partake in or even support someone else’s harmful behavior.  Ahimsa is all about developing and bringing kindness, positivity, goodness, and love into our selves and the world around us.  


SATYA - The second yama embraces truthfulness–in thought and action, heart, mind, and intention.  Morally speaking, truth is a concept that is vital.  In this yama, truth is being true to yourself with your actions, intentions, and self talk.  


ASTEYA - Asteya is the third yama of the first limb of yoga and embodies non stealing or refusing to steal.  With this yama we must remember that we are greater than material wealth.  Everything we need, we have within.  This also includes other people's time and energy, ideas and thoughts, physical and material things.  A wise way to look at practicing asteya is to practice originality.


BRAHMACHARYA - There are a few words to help describe the practice of brahmacharya–celibacy, energy conservation, self-restraint, or control.  Learning to safeguard energy and choosing to use it wisely is the real understanding of this yama.  Instead of wasting energy on fleeting pleasures (not always sexual), practicing brahmacharya means to practice constancy, open conversations, and meditation.  The end goal is to move in infinity.


APARIGRAHA - This yama is so important in today’s modern times.  To practice aparigraha is to practice resisting greed/desire for unnecessary material goods or non-coveting.  This yama is about being happy in our existence and realizing that giving is the greatest joy.  Another facet of aparigraha is the ability to understand and pursue gratitude for one’s own resources.


While it seems like a lot, the five yamas of the first limb of yoga are really very practical.  Most modern yogis already are putting these codes of conduct into practice in their yoga practice and daily lives and routines.  It is important to remember that this life is a journey and one will never be perfect at any of them.  Life is a constant ebb and flow of thoughts, desires, and actions that are taken and given every day.  The important thing to acknowledge is to keep up your practice and breathe in and lean into each yama and limb as you are ready.  To help you do this contact Krista at Aligned with Green Wellness or go to https://www.alignedwithgreen.com/ to schedule a class today!

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