If you missed Lauren’s Master Class on Yamas & Niyamas, that is okay! Because, this month I’m going to break down what I learned over the years myself and how I apply them to my life as well.
The Yamas & Niyamas are part of the 8 limbs of yoga and are originally from The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali. If you haven’t heard about The Yoga Sutras, they are a collection of ancients texts, meditations, and mindful practices that create yoga philosophy and the basis of which yoga is practiced. These verses and texts are not meant to be taken literally but are meant to be weaved into your life and practiced whole-heartedly.
I loved how Lauren taught her master class, so I am going to use her version throughout these next four blog posts as well. Her master class was all about knowing what your core values are, realizing what is getting in the way of them, and then using the yamas and niyamas to bring you back to the core of who you are.
Some of my core values are: Creativity, Humor, Honestly, Authenticity, and Family
Some things that get in my way: Fear, striving for perfection, lack of rest, procrastination, hoping things will just fix themselves, anxiety, and so much more…
To start, we are going to define THREE of the Yamas for this week’s blog. The yamas are restraints or moral disciplines that can pertain to not only ourselves, but how we treat others.
AHIMSA: Non-Violence, Non-Harming
It all comes back to this. There is the the very obvious definition of non-harming such as: not physically harming yourself or others, but also non-harming through your thoughts and actions.
For this, it’s even noticing if you are hurting yourself through transactions with others. Is a friend bringing you down, are you constantly doing something for your toxic boss, if you are being harmed or someone else is being harmed by you, it’s time to reevaluate.
A recent example of how I’ve practiced this was actually this past weekend. My family and I went to try a new restaurant in our area. I’d seen so many amazing things on social media and couldn’t wait to take my husband, because we love trying new restaurants together! It ended up being awful. It was super expensive, the food took forever, it wasn’t cooked how we liked, and the service was meh. What a bummer. Later that evening I saw someone post on social media about that particular restaurant going on and on about how great it was. Showing ahimsa, or non-harming restraint, meant not putting in my opinion about it. As a business owner myself, I would have been crushed if we just needed to workout the kinks without being blasted all over social media. That conversation would need to be had with someone who actually worked at the restaurant in a constructive way. Me telling the world it was terrible, when in reality just might have been our experience only.
A great question I ask myself, especially in those social media situations, are: 1) Is this comment potentially harmful to myself or someone else? 2) What do I have to gain from saying this comment? 3) Is this person likely to change their mind based on what I have to say?
SATYA - Truthfulness
That which exists, that which is. This is all about speaking about how things really are, not as you want them to be.
This is a great way to check in on stories you might share about others. What is the exaggeration you are telling? What is the lie you are telling yourself? Are you living in alignment with your true YES self?
As someone who can take things personally and suffers from anxiety, this is a great way to check in with what is actually happening. For me, it’s about noticing what is really happening, and not what is going on in my head. Asking myself what assumptions I’m making, and ask what is the story am I creating in my head?
ASTEYA - Non-Stealing
Restraint from making ourselves smaller or bigger than we are. Also, making sure to give credit where credit is due.
Personally, I love practicing this by making sure I’m not stealing anyone’s life experience. Trying not to one-up someone or making sure whoever has the win actually takes it. To me, this is why being quiet during savasana is important, you have no idea who actually needs the rest. And yes, while some days it’s so hard to stay still, it’s so important to share the space and let those who need it take it and to not steal that time from them.
Also, do not waste people’s time. Practicing this by not dragging people along and letting them think you are actually going to do something. Say YES when you want to say YES and say NO when you want to say NO!