The first member (anga) of Ashtanga Yoga as described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, Yama , literally means observance, refraining, duty. This is the base, with Niyama (disciplines and restrictions) on which the rest of the spiritual process of Yoga is built.
Today, with the rise and democratization of Hatha Yoga in the West, these aspects, which are often confused with moral and ethical dogmas, are neglected in favor of more practical anga such as poses, Pranayama and meditation.
However Yama and Niyama are much more. They are the prerequisites for any holistic approach to Yoga. They offer a practical method of inner transformation, by connecting more and more deeply to the positive dimension of our nature and by eradicating negativity. In doing so, the mind is freed and can focus fully on spiritual practices, without wasting our reserve of Prana and living in an unbalanced way.
In this new exploration, we propose to (re)visit these different life postures whose practice is a real sadhana aiming to align ourselves with the positive energy of the universe.
hiṃsāsatyāsteyabrahmacaryāparigrahā yamāḥYoga Sutras II-30
The Yama described by Patanjali are:
- ahimsa: universal non-violence in thought, word and deed, directly, indirectly or by consent; non-aggressiveness;
- satya: veracity, truth, sincerity, impartial view of events;
- asteya: honesty, probity, calmly enjoy what already exists;
- brahmacharya: control of the senses, self-control, moderation in desires (chastity) in order to avoid wasting energy;
- aparigraha: detachment, contentment, non-possession, absence of lust.
We will then explore in a second step the Niyama.