Yoga practice is not all acrobats and lulu lemon gear. We actually have a code to live by, sort of like the ten commandments. The physical practice, the postures, are only a very small part of living a yogic lifestyle. Here is a quick guide to practicing the yamas whether you practice yoga postures or not you can certainly try to bring awareness to the following in your everyday life
1) Non Violence, Ahimsa. This means being kind to yourself and those around you. Simple. My teacher said that it is possible to be kind every moment of the day, it’s a choice. Being kind to others alone is not enough though. You should start with yourself. Looking after yourself, treating yourself with respect are acts of kindness to yourself. The most difficult practice I have with Ahimsa is kindness of thoughts. I am not good with compliments, I always over prepare for anything ( not thinking I know enough), I have quite mean thoughts about myself alot of the time. If you want to practice ahimsa today choose either to; take time out for yourself or catch yourself when you have an unkind thought. Just the mere catching of the thought will be enough to dissolve it.
2) Be Truthful, Satya. This does in some sense mean not telling lies , being honest, but it goes a little deeper than that. You can’t have truth without kindness, that is cruelty. For eg you can’t tell someone they look terrible. That is ignoring the first practice of ahimsa. Again it is best to start with yourself. Everyone on this planet knows what is right and wrong. What is right for you, what is true for you is where you begin your practice. If you are working for an organisation that is dishonest and goes against your values this is not being truthful to your values. If you avoid taking action on an issue that is hanging over you because you fear some repercussion this is not being truthful to you. If you do not operate within your own truthfulness you will be eaten alive from the inside out. All your truths should be wrapped in kindness. What are your values? Do you feel like you have integrity when no one is looking?
3) Don’t steal, Asteya. Taking something that is not freely offered to you is stealing. Maybe you expect someone to do something for you and you take advantage of them. Maybe you get on the phone and talk for half an hour while the recipient with young kids is trying to get dinner on. That is stealing their time. Maybe you are quite liberal with others possessions. Maybe you just didn’t give someone their book back. Taking what is not freely offered is a sign you feel you don’t have enough for yourself. Taking more than you need or using more of the world’s resources than you need can be a form of stealing.
4) Be moderate,Brahmacharya. Often translated as celibacy this seems to be the most misunderstood of the yamas. In translation it literally means walking with god or devoting ones sexual energy to the greater good. In modern day life we could interpret this yama as, being faithful, being present to your partner and not using others mindlessly for your own benefit.
5) Non-Greed, Aparigraha. Remember the days when you were ‘povo student’ as my niece likes to say? Not having much is a great practice of being happy with what you have. When we start earning money we are often overtaken with a desire for more and more and more. We are never quite happy with what we have. I’m constantly thinking ohh that would be nice for the house. In honesty we don’t need any more, at all. We just think we do. Constantly buying more and more stuff is not practicing non greed. How about giving something away instead?
Practice for today: Choose one yama to focus on for a week. At the end of the week assess how you went. Even trying to bring awareness of them into your life will change things for your alot. You will wow the universe.