The Yamas of Yoga

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The biggest myth of Yoga is that it is nothing more than a series of poses that you push yourself through once or twice a week. Or, as I practice, every morning.

The poses, called Asanas, are just one small part of Yoga. If you are at all serious about getting the complete benefit out of pursuing this ancient art, beyond how cute your butt looks in yoga pants, you will want to discover what Yoga actually is.

What Yoga is Not:

→ An exercise program or JUST a series of poses
→ A religion
→ A mysterious, ancient secret reserved for monks

Yoga Is:

8 ways to living the highest potential of mental, physical and spiritual health. these 8 ways are known as “The Eight Fold Path”.

The first way, or path, is called Yamas and is a set of social principles, referring to how you treat others and the world around you. In order to immerse yourself in the full experience of Yoga, this is where you want to start.

The Five Principles of Social Principles (Yamas)

1. Refrain from using all forms of violence. (Ahimsa)

2. Remain honest in words and actions. (Satya)

3. Do not take what is not yours. (Asteya)

4. Pursue a spiritual lifestyle (Whatever that looks like to you). (Brahmacharya)

5. Do not covet/want what others have (refrain from feeling jealous). (Aparigraha)

As you can see, these principles are all about doing what’s right by other people.

You can:

  • Practice Yoga by practicing the Yamas without being religious
  • Practice Yoga by practicing your religion’s set of principles
  • Allow the Yamas and your chosen religion to enhance and complement each other

However you choose to do it, when you reflect on and live these principles, you are practicing Yoga.

The Eight Fold Path of Yoga

1. Social principles to get along with others better. (Yamas)

2. Self principles such as inner discipline and responsibility to become the best you possible. (Niyama)

3. The poses to strengthen the body and unite the mind/body/spirit connection. (Asanas)

4. Spending time with your breath to purify and remove distractions, and bring about a feeling of peacefulness/equanimity (such as sitting meditation). (Pranayama)

5. Focused and sustained inner reflection to remain more connected to yourself and your intuition/higher self. (Again, such as in meditation). (Pratyahara)

6. Practice mindfulness by focusing your thoughts in order to improve concentration, reduce stress along with a vast variety of additional benefits (Such as using a mantra or having a visual focus). (Dharana)

7. Practice mindfulness in general to increase awareness of yourself and the universe as it unfolds in the present moment. (Dhyana)

8. Feeling at one with the universe and reaching the ultimate enlightment – the promised consequence of following the other 7 paths. (Samadhi)

I will share additional information about the additional 7 paths of Yoga in future posts, so stay tuned to those.

For now, I challenge you to reflect on the Yamas and how they can improve your lifestyle. Also, join me as a fellow Yogi on the path to better health and mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.

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