This week, we dive right into the yamas! A couple of weeks ago, we touched briefly on the yamas and niyamas on the blog. To jog your memory: yama and niyama are the first two limbs along the eight-limbed path of yoga. Yama refers to ethical practices, while niyama refers to personal practices. These first two limbs are meant to serve as the foundation for your yoga-inspired ethics and lifestyle. However, keeping a “yoga-inspired” lifestyle is a lot easier said than done. Life happens, things get crazy and sometimes we need more than just a reminder to “stay positive” or a cute Instagram quote (although, some days those quotes do help!). Being grounded in your truth with a clear field of awareness takes work. The yamas refer to the ethical and external (outside of yourself) practices you can ground yourself in to keep walking your yogic path. You can think of the yamas as how you interact with the world. Ultimately, how you treat others and your surroundings reflects how you treat yourself. By practicing the yamas, you are not only caring for others, but caring for yourself. The five yamas are as follows:
-Brahmacharya (Right use of energy)
The concepts of non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing and non-attachment are all fairly common vocabulary and useful concepts. So let’s look at brahmacharya or right use of energy. What exactly does that mean and how can you utilize it? Traditionally, brahmacharya referred to celibacy. The first yogis dedicated their lives to the practice and did not have families or relations as they committed to ascension through the eight-limbed path. The energy that could have been used for pleasure and to create a family was instead dedicated to the spiritual practice. Yoga has now come to more common folk, but we may still explore this concept in ways that are realistic to daily life. Feel free to explore a commitment to celibacy or times of conscious celibacy if that calls to you. But I encourage you to think about the words “right use of energy” or “conservation of vital energy,” as it’s defined in Bachman’s The Path of the Yoga Sutras. This concept is all about prana (life force) and where your prana goes in daily life. It can be as simple as shifting your speech away from gossiping (likely a waste of your energy), to more time spent in silence or using kind words. It could be not over-committing yourself in a society that encourages being excessively busy. Or maybe it’s a literal, physical conservation of your energy. Been hitting the gym too hard and feeling run down? Take a day off! Too much chaturanga? Take a restorative class! This week, your yogi homework is to center your meditation practice around brahmacharya. Notice one area in your life that could be brighter if you realign your energy. Where attention goes, energy flows y’all.
Want to learn more about the yamas? Come study with us in yoga teacher training! Sign up HERE. Need some time for self-study? Check out the links below for more on the yamas.