The Yoga Sutras are a great read. But, for so many people, that’s all they are. Despite all of the (literally) sage advice, the Sutras can end of feeling a little bit esoteric, which makes it difficult to apply what they’re talking about in your actual life.
Thankfully, there are two lists, the Yamas and the Niyamas, that help to break down what living a “yogic” lifestyle actually means. While the Niyamas tell us what to do, the five Yamas tell us what not to do.
Ahimsa. Translated, ahimsa means “non-harming.” A lot of yogis use this as reasoning for becoming vegan or vegetarian, which is totally cool if that feels right for you. I like to think of ahimsa as a reminder to do everything I can with as much love and kindness as possible. You can start practicing this by changing your thoughts, words, and actions, including the way you treat yourself. What you say and think really will become your reality. Try starting your day off with writing in a daily gratitude journal so that, from the very beginning, your mindset is tuned in to being loving.
Satya. Meaning “truthfulness,” satya reminds us all to speak our truth. Just remember that you also need to follow ahimsa too, which means that you should strive to be both honest and kind.
Asteya. This yama means “non-stealing,” which, at first, can seem really easy. Expand your definition of “stealing,” however, and you start to see why we could all use some practice in this area. Can you let someone talk without interrupting them? Can you guard your time against others’ needs and wants?
Brahmacharya. It means moderation, which is helpful to think about when it comes to what you eat and drink. Brahmacharya is also a great yama to me mindful about when spending time on social media, watching TV, even doing yoga. I find that taking time to meditate is a great way to start to see the areas in my life where I could benefit from moderation.
Aparigraha. Translated, the yama “aparigraha” means “non-greediness.” I think most people struggle with this yama in their day-to-day life in terms of being envious or jealous of other people - what they have, what they are doing, etc. The more grateful you can be, the less you’ll find yourself struggling with this one.
Is there one yama in particular that feels like it needs more of your attention right now? While working on all of them is great, choosing one at a time and making new habits can be even more helpful for creating a better, more “yogic” lifestyle.