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How to Apply the Five Moral Restrants to Your Yoga Practice

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If you take yoga seriously, you’ll want to be cognizant of the five moral restraints (the yamas) both while practicing on the mat and while living everyday life. Interpret the yamas such that you can apply each of the five restraints to your life in a practical way. Meditate upon the five restraints as you hold various poses, and then take the lessons you learn during yoga class with you, applying them to situations that pop up at work and home.

The first yama is ahimsa, or refusal to participate in violence. You might interpret this to mean being kind towards your boss, a fellow employee, another person rushing for the subway, or a family member. Perhaps you will live this by practicing patience with a trying coworker or gentleness with a child, or maybe you will project global kindness towards all of mankind, recognizing our unifying humanity.

The second yama is satya, or commitment to truthfulness. How you use this principle is up to you; you may wish to guard your tongue against anything but telling the truth, or perhaps you will internalize this to seek only truth and goodness inside yourself. You might embrace this principle by speaking words of truth or by honoring your integrity and the integrity of others.

The third yama is asteya, or refusal to steal. You may decide you need to return those office supplies, or perhaps give back to your parents who so generously supported you all those years. You may decide the best way to implement this yama is to only use as much as you truly need, preserving resources so others may also have enough, and thereby honoring the earth and its inhabitants.

Fourth on the list is called brahmacarya, which has to do with moderation. You can practice this by thinking through what extremes tempt you, such as overeating, oversleeping, excessive drinking, or any other way you take too much or indulge too much. If you live within the confines of moderation, you will be able to give to those around you.

Aparigrapha is the last of the moral restraints; it is the yama of unselfishness. This principle leads us to never hoard our possessions, but to give freely, sharing with others in need.

If you embrace the five moral restraints as a part of your yoga practice, you will proceed along your path to enlightenment.

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2 Comments

  • Caelyn said:
    June 24, 2011 at 6:25 am

    What a neat article. I had no ilnking.

  • Fidelia said:
    June 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    One or two to rmeemebr, that is.

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