• Rebecca Laidlaw

What are the Yamas?

How do you interact with others? Have you ever sat down to think about how do I show up in this world? What are my guiding principles? Yoga promotes the Yamas as the "right ways of living" and "universal morality". They are 5 guidelines for how we interact with the world popularised by Patanjali's 8 Limbs of Yoga. They are not set to be restrictive but to guide us to a feel whole, live well, and be united.



Ahimsa - meaning non-violence

This does not only mean being non-violent physically but also emotionally and spiritually. An emotional example is not to gossip - how many times have you been burned by that one huh? Spiritually, this can be why a whole bunch of us yogis can be referred to as hippy vegans (I say that from experience) we love on everyone and everything y'all of course that filters into my diet. Essentially be kind and be love.

Satya - meaning truth

Choosing our words carefully and expressing ourselves in a way that is honest and kind. This is the consciousness of what we speak, what we think, and a practice of loving-kindness. Satya encourages us not to judge and to come from a place of empathy. Let's be honest, we never know what situation another person is in, we haven't walked a mile in their shoes - who are we to judge. Whether we judge unkindness or our perception of another person's successes, this is not Satya. Be honest - yes and be kind about it.

Asteya - meaning non-stealing

At the most basic level don't take what isn't yours. However, Asteya is not limited only to stealing material objects it also encompasses other aspects such as; energy, happiness, dreams, and goals. The practice of not bringing others down but lifting them up. There's enough to go around, once you truly embody that your potential and the potential of those around you is limitless.

Brahmacharya - traditionally meant celibacy or conserving sexual energy however in more urban yoga forms means the moderation of the senses

With a purpose to cultivate self-awareness, Brahmacharya teaches us that overindulging in can deplete our life-force energy. An example close to my own experience is food. Being a recovered binge-eater I became aware of the difference between want and need and the practice of only taking as much as you need. Simple examples of practicing Brahmacharya can be not listening to music as you meditate or when you go for a walk, forms of fasting, or taking a day off from screen time and the internet.

Aparigraha - meaning non-possessiveness

The practice of greed-less-ness. When we come from a place of having enough and not a place of scarcity. Being content with what you have. However, this does not mean you cannot always strive for more but it means that along the journey you can continue to feel 'full' in life.

The Yamas are not a pre-requisite of practicing Yoga. I am NOT telling you to go vegan, go celibate, and be content with what you have and never ask for more. That in my opinion would be crazy! Even I don't live by those rules. What I am asking is to dive deeper into how you want to show up in the world. How do you want to live?



PS. This adorable ball of fluff is called Ahimsa - I nursed him back to health with the support off Akasha Wellness Retreat Centre staff while in Romania where he still lives - although he is much fluffier and fatter now with all the love. The sweetest cat to humans who used to be in constant battles with other cats in the area - hence his super ironic name Ahimsa (non-violence), now truly embracing his nature as a pampered and much-loved King of the Akasha castle.

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