Yoga Ethics goes hand in hand with Asana, Meditation, and Pranayama and improves our well being. Moreover, Patanjali introduced yoga ethics that are universal, inclusive and correspond with our natural internal desires. Fortunately, yogic ethics are organized so that we go through self inquiry in how we relate to the external world (Yamas) vs how we self regulate (Niyamas). This week we’ll discuss the Yamas and how they contribute to our well being.
The Yamas are the yoga ethics that help us tend and befriend others as they guide us to be more socially aware, compassionate, and optimistic.
Ahimsa – Compassion
The principal of Ahimsa is that we avoid causing harm to other beings. For example, with empathy we acknowledge pain others may be feeling. We provide them space to process and integrate the pain they feel. Likewise, with compassion we engage the care centers in our brain which release neurotransmitters like oxytocin and dopamine. Oxytocin plays a role in social bonding and our well being improves with positive and meaningful social interaction.
I would like to acknowledge a particular group of chronically ill people that often refer to themselves as “spoonies”. If you’re unfamiliar with The Spoon Theory and where it came from, please read here . This group needs to be surrounded by people that practice ahimsa as they struggle to be well.
Satya – Kind Truthfulness
Satya is the ethic principle of always being grounded in truth with our actions and words. When we are truly sincere and genuine there is less fear and ignorance. We don’t need to defend our actions. As a result, we have quality relationships with healthy boundaries
Asteya – Non Stealing
Asteya is the principal of not stealing possessions, ideas, achievements or resources. We live this principle by being grateful with what we have, giving credit to others for their ideas, not wanting more than we need, and feeling joy for other’s successes. In this way, Asteya provides us a better sense of belonging by understanding there is enough for all of us. We will notice how freely wealth comes to us when we practice Asteya.
Bramacarya – Unity
Bramacarya is the principal of the right use of energy towards a unified balance. For spiritual practitioners this can be directing energy towards the divine or for others this could mean finding balance with nature. Either way, taking time to notice the sacredness of life brings about optimism, reduces fear, and provides hope towards a better vitality. Most importantly, ensuring our energy is directed to what best serves us brings about better well being.
Aparigraha – Sustainability
Aparigraha is the ethic principal of taking what we need in the moment, focusing on the journey and letting go of the outcome. In this practice we focus on sustainability by not being attached to our material and emotional wants. Accordingly, it is important we reflect honestly on our wants versus our needs. In this older blog post here I explain how practicing (or not practicing) Aparigraha can have an impact on relationships.
These yoga ethics are a very important part of the practice. The Yamas allow room for self inquiry so we can understand our actions impact and are connected to the whole. After all, yoga is the link to connect energy, materiality and intelligence towards the desired direction of our lives.