The Five Yamas of Hatha Yoga Essay

This essay has a total of 1389 words and 6 pages.


The Five Yamas of Hatha Yoga





The Five Yamas of Hatha Yoga

Yoga is a discipline both involving physical and mental control that originated in India.
The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word, “yug”, meaning union and it
means the joining of the individual spirit with the universal spirit. The type of yoga
known as Hatha Yoga, (“Ha”- sun, “tha”-moon) is what is most
commonly practiced and this yoga involves the path of the mind and body and is the most
physical. There are eight limbs or steps of Hatha Yoga, the first step being the five
Yamas. There are five yamas and these concern your behavior to the world.

The first of the yamas is Ahimsa, whose translation from Sanskrit is non-violence. The
yama of Ahimsa is about practicing non-violence in words, thoughts, and actions as well as
about practicing compassion, patience, understanding, and love of all creatures. This
yama is the one that I am most consciously aware of and that I practice the most in my
life, for Ahimsa is the very essence of my religion, Jainism. To me, Ahimsa is much more
than a request of being non-violent. It has the positive meaning of intense and detached
love for every living creature. Every living creature has the same right to live in peace
as you have and all beings should respect that right. Furthermore, Ahimsa does not mean
to tolerate or passively accept violence or evil. It means to resist violence and evil,
but with detachment and by loving the person through which that evil manifests. Ahimsa
also implies a lack of unnecessary criticism. It requests to respect other’s views
and beliefs, and to listen to and approach with an open mind ideas that vary from your
own. One of the ways that I practice Ahimsa in my life is by being a vegetarian. It is
extremely hard to be a vegetarian in this country. In fact, at a time in my life when I
was very young and very ignorant about the principles of my religion, I ate meat. Yet, as
I became more knowledgeable and wise, I gave up meat and haven’t eaten it in ten
years. The reason I did so was simply because I believe in the sanctity and integrity of
all life forms.

The second yama is Satya, whose translation from Sanskrit is truthfulness. It requires
one to respect the truth in thinking, action, and speech. Satya is a very large concept.
It means that you should not say something that you know is false. It also means that you
should not lead others into error by making them believe that you know something when you
only presume. Saying the truth is extremely difficult, for, before telling the truth you
must know it through personal experimentation; you must discover the truth about yourself
and release false pretenses. The way I live truthfulness in my heart is to be truthful to
myself and to my heart. I need to do that before I can open up the truth to everyone
else. One of the ways in which I practice truthfulness to myself is by knowing and
respecting my abilities and limitations. For example, I am very aware of my knowledge of
other subjects. In some subjects such as math and physics I excel, however, in others,
such as politics or history, I am not as capable as other people. So, when discussions of
subjects in which I am not so competent come up, I don’t pretend to act
knowledgeable or well-versed in that subject. Instead of being fake and inferior, I try
to let others take the lead and step back and listen in order to absorb more information
and to increase my understanding. By doing so, I stay true to myself as well as to
others.

The third yama is Asteya, whose translation from Sanskrit is non-stealing and
non-coveting. In order to fully practice Asteya, you must realize that at this moment, you
are whole and complete. You must work with what you have today, feel a sense of
contentment with what you have, and have no concern for the future. This implies not to
take something that is not yours, to use something only the way it is supposed to be used
or the way it is permitted to be used. Therefore, Asteya requires lack of greed. Wishing
obsessively to have something that somebody else has, even it is necessary or valuable for
us, leads to lack of balance and unhappiness. If somebody obsessively wants something
that belongs to another person and takes it, he is a thief. If he does not take it, then
he is not a thief, but he doesn’t follow Asteya either. Asteya is when you do not
take as well as do not desire something valuble that belongs to another person. Asteya
also requires cultivating an ability to be happy for other people and this is how I try
incorporate into my life. Instead of getting jealous or envious of a person whose
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