In recognition of, and acknowledgement to, my beloved Guru Dr. Asana Andiappan – I share one of his teachings to me about one dimension of Yama. Yama is the first limb of Ashtanga yoga, the systematic form of yoga given by Sage Thirumoolar and Sage Patanjali in Yogic holy texts – Thirumantram and Yoga Sutra respectively.
Yoga is the process of inner exploring, travelling from the outside universe to the inner universe. The process of viewing external existence through the inner self – a practice of self evolution. Generally, Yama means disciplines or our way of conduct. The practice of Yama requires restraint over our mind, body and speech in such a manner that prevents an individual from violence, falsehood, theft, greediness and incontinence.
- Practicing non-violence means to not hurt any living being in any way – physically and mentally.
- Practicing truthfulness, without falsehood, means to be honest and speak factually at all times.
- Practicing non-stealing, not committing theft, means to never take anything which does not belong to you.
- Practicing the avoidance of greed means to avoid expectations and acquisition of more than one needs of anything.
- Practicing the avoidance of incontinence, maintaining quality of control, means to control all parts of oneself – mind, body and emotions.
Yama is easy to understand – but is that easy to follow? In practical application on a daily basis, how can I not hurt others when I speak and I can’t control how others may interpret my words? Being honest in my speech will at times most likely hurt others, and in those moments of hurt I may be stealing by taking away their peace and happiness through my actions and words. Here lies the possibility of disappointment in my own Yama practice. Basically the practice of Yama starts in analysing our own violent moments to ourself – looking at how we hurt ourselves. There are 3 major activities in our life, these are to Eat, Sleep and being moderate. This is where and how we hurt our selves every time and this is where we should start our Yama practice.
Everyday we eat and sleep, but do we do that in a proper way or do we disrespect those activities? Ask yourself:
- If I skip meals, eat in an irregular manner, or often eat junk foods which spoil my digestive system;
- If I keep changing my sleep pattern, work late, long hours and make myself less efficient the next day.
If one acts in these ways then, yes, they are more violent to their selves, where they hurt themselves and practice an unhealthy life. This is where they are not honest to themselves, where they steal their own health and happiness, this is where their own greed prevents them from a healthy life, and this is where they have lost quality of control of their mind, body and senses.
The practice of Yama begins in understanding the Importance of our own health, where and how slowly we spoil it everyday. The minimum effort we take to save ourself is following the very basic activities of our daily life – moderation of our eating and sleeping patterns. Let’s focus to give more importance to something which Is really important, nothing is more important than a healthy life to enable us to lead a happy life. Practice Yama which is only a small part of yoga – learn yoga and practice yoga everyday.