Description and how to Follow Yamas practically in Daily Life
Yama is the first Limb of the Patanjali's 8 Limbs of Yoga. Yamas are the External Disciplines that one must follow in order to have a peaceful mind and soul. These are five in numbers and constitute a set of protocols for a Yogi in Patanjali's Eight Limbs of Yoga. For successful Ashtanga Yoga, it is mandatory to find a practical way to practice Yama.
It is an old proverb that a healthy mind makes a healthy body. If your thoughts are pure then your nerves oscillate positively. These Yama help positivity to flow in mind and therefore in the body. The Yama is behavioral teachings and brings morality in Life.
The first limb of 8 Limbs of Yoga mentions the conduct of Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, and Aparigraha in daily life. These five pillars of Yama teach Humanity, Control, and Compassion. Yamas are the most basic rules which are recommended by Maharshi Patanjali in order to lead a stressfree life.
Patanjali mentioned Yama in 8 Limbs of Yoga as the guidelines set for proper conduct. In our daily life our thoughts, actions, routines, behavior with others all affect our body in one way or the other. Yoga is basically a Science of bringing our body, mind, and soul in harmony hence our conduct must be pure and ethical. Your Thoughts are the actions to which your body reacts as per Newton's Action-Reaction Law.
Importance of Yama in Ashtanga Yoga
Asana (Postures), Dhyana (Meditation) and Breathe Control (Pranayama) are the most popular limbs of Yoga these days. Why Patanjali described Yamas and Niyamas before Asana, Dhyana, and Pranayama? The simple answer is Yama and Niyama are the tools for the successful practice of those popular Limbs of Yoga.
Imagine someone practicing Postures without a steady mind or one trying to meditate while having hatred and anger inside. What if one tries to Control his Breathe in messy surroundings. He probably will end up saying this is not my cup of tea and possibly won't work for me and thus the journey stops.
Maharshi Patanjali in his Yog Sutra mentioned Ahimsa as the first conduct to follow. It is a Sanskrit word that means Non-violence. Ahimsa brings compassion in one's heart. Violence generates anger in humans which is one of the most dangerous enemies in the pursuance of God as described in Hinduism.
Ahimsa is a practice of knowing that God is omnipresent and resides in every living being. Thus Ahimsa simply means having mercy on other living beings. It is therefore recommended in Jainism to have vegetarian food and avoiding non-veg food. Hinduism and Jainism believe that the fear which a fish, chicken or any creature have at the time of its death transfers to the person who eats it.
The Light of Asia, Lord Gautam Buddha has also said Ahimsa Parmo Dharmah i.e. Ahimsa is the ultimate religion. The prime goal of the whole concept of Ashtanga Yoga is to have a peaceful mind and a healthy body. Therefore it is an important practice as Ahimsa helps one to have a peaceful mind.
Satya means practicing Truth in daily life. Lying is a big Sin in Hinduism and Jainism. With 8 Limbs of Yoga we are practicing to set our mind, body, and soul in harmony, but when one lies this synchronism disturbs. Thus Maharshi Patanjali recommended practicing Satya by mind, words, and karma.
When you don't practice Satya then you have to lie multiple times to hide a single lie. The chain of lies thus never stops. It continues as a chain reaction. Hence conduct of Satya makes one's life easier. It is an old saying from Ancient Indian Upanishad that Satyamev Jayte or Truth Always Triumphs.
Asteya is a traditional Jainism teaching meaning Non-stealing. Stealing is an offense in almost every human society. Stealing gives rise to restlessness in soul later hence it is prohibited in 8 Limbs of Yoga for Stress-free Life.
Asteya has a broader meaning in Ashtanga Yoga Philosophy. It doesn't simply mean not stealing a thing that someone else owns. It means not having an eye on every noun that doesn't belong to you. Asteya is defined as per the general needs of a human being. If you are occupying someone's rights then also you are stealing and violating Asteya.
Brahmacharya means following the conduct of Brahma. Brahma here means the child of God. Brahmacharya brings control to the body. It is taught that Brahmacharya is related to sex control only. No doubt it is one of the aspects of Brahmacharya. We, humans, are considered to be the most loving children of God. There are some protocols or ideals set for humans to follow. Bringing those protocols is Brahmacharya.
It is one of the most misunderstood concepts in Ashtanga Yoga. Some so-called Gurus teach that it's definition has changed with time. But all these concepts are beyond time and totally versatile. Having control over your senses one of the prime needs for successful Ashtanga Yoga. Controlling and Limiting sexual activities and sexual thoughts is an important aspect of Yoga.
Aparigraha is avoiding the excessive collection of anything maybe a thing or an activity. Not practicing this gives rise to Moh and attachment towards worldly pleasures. If someone likes sweets a lot and he consumes sweets highly in order to satisfy the desire of his tongue then it brings moh in his life. Moh is another powerful weapon of evil like anger as taught in Hinduism.
The best practice of Aparigraha is to share the things you have the attachment for, with the others. Desires have no end in this world and hence Buddha said Desire is the root cause of all Evils. It is nearly impossible to satisfy desires by bhog. It is like extinguishing fire was sprinkling petrol or kerosene on it. Hence Aparigrah is an important practice for a Yogi and He must limit the bhog of worldly pleasures.
Yama in 8 Limbs of Yoga are the external discipline that helps one to bring peace and harmony in one's life. Yama provides a shield against the four enemies described in Hinduism namely Kaam(Sexual Desires), Kroadh(Anger), Lobh(Greed), Moh(Attachment).
Thus it essential for a Yogi to practice these Yamas. In Bhagwad Geeta, Yogesh Lord Krishna said that I don't like extremes. I like everything in balance. This means you don't need to go to Himalayas or Forest and become a Sanyasi to be a Yogi. Consuming worldly pleasures with limits without getting attached to it is the best way to achieve the Ultimate Goal of Human Life i.e. to attain Moksha.