Lesson 10 - The Social Disciplines
The first limb of the eight fold path of Yoga is Yama. Yama are
five in number. They are:
- Ahimsa (non-violence)
- Satya (truth)
- Asteya (non-stealing)
- Brahmacharya (celibacy) and
- Aparigraha (non-avariciousness)
As you can see Yoga has included "values of life" as a part of Yogic
practices. In modern world you may find people who claim claim that in order to
attain Yoga only certain Pranayama or Asanas are to be done. Take it for sure
that such people do not know what is Yoga. They just read some books and tell
dry things to their followers. Many times practitioner complain that even after
doing various Asanas and Pranayamas they can not see any improvement in them.
The key think such people lack is observance of Yama and Niyama. Following
Yama in strict sense in very difficult for most of us. However, that doesn't
reduce its importance. If you want good fruits then you must nourish the tree
well. It's the same thing with Yoga.
Ahimsa or Non-violance
Ahimsa or non-violance refers to abandoning violence at all levels. Often is
is believed that violence is equated with physical injury. However, mental
violence in the form of hatrade and bitterness is also a violence in itself. Why
is non-violance important? Any kind of violence always triggers a cycle of
hatrade and bitterness. If you give violence to others you also get it back in
one form or the other. A mind full of hatrade and violent thoughts can be
stable. Have you ever observed yourself when you have fight or quarrel with
somebody? Even after the actual act of fight or quarrel is over you keep cursing
and blaming the opponent. Your mind is full of bitterness. How can
God dwell in such a mind? Further, a Yogi believes that God is in
everything. So, when you hurt somebody you are actually hurting the God.
Satya or truthfulness
Satya or truthfulness refers to adhering to truth in personal and
social life. Truthfulness gives you courage. An act of dishonesty
always generates a feeling of guilt in your mind. Rest of the life you live with
this guilty feeling. It also affects stability of your mind. Satya is a
power. Initially "you speak truth" and once it becomes your natural way
"whatever you speak becomes truth". It is that powerful.
Asteya or non-stealing
Asteya or non-stealing refers to banishing all acts of cheating and
dishonesty. Again as per Law of Karma if you steal something it is like taking
debt and you must repay it in current or future lives. Cheating others leaves a
guilty feeling in your mind.
Bramhacharya or celibacy
Bramhacharya refers to observing celibacy at all levels - physical, mental
and verbal. In modern world many people (even so called Yoga teachers) seem to
ignore or neglect this factor. Why is celibacy important? It is a big topic in
itself. For the purpose of these lessons I will brief you just a summary of the
reasoning. As per Yogic perspective this body is nourished by mystical Bindu
which is a secretion from a tiny spot in the brain. This bindu drops down and
gets transformed into sexual fluids. Thus wasting sexual fluids means wasting
bindu. A Yogi prevents the loss of this bindu with the help of various Yogic
techniques. A Yogi transforms his sexual energy into spiritual energy.
Moreover, indulgence in sexual activities makes you slave of sensual pleasure.
You start craving for more and more pleasure thus ruining your spiritual
progress. It is recommended that if you are unmarried better to keep away from
sexual activities. If you are married a path of moderation is
Aparigraha or non-avariciousness
Aparigraha refers to non-avariciousness or
non-possessiveness. All of us have a tendency of acquiring, possessing and
storing things. It is often observed that people are always unhappy with their
current situation. If they have one bungalow they want two. One car is not
sufficient they need four. When you are craving for luxuries where is the time
In summary, Yama represents ethical behavior. Any Yoga
aspirant interested in making progress must strive to follow this code of
conduct. In the next lesson we will talk about some self-discipline.
May the Peace be with you.
Bipin Joshi is an independent software consultant and trainer by profession specializing in Microsoft web development technologies. Having embraced the Yoga way of life he is also a yoga mentor, meditation teacher, and spiritual guide to his students. He is a prolific author and writes regularly about software development and yoga on his websites. He is programming, meditating, writing, and teaching for over 27 years. To read more about him go here. More details about his Kriya and Meditation online course are available here.