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 suitable.

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 for God?

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.

Posted On : 19 January 2007

Tags : Yoga Patanjali Raja Yoga Ashtanga Yoga Meditation Courses