Ashtanga; Yama 1st Petal

Ashtanga; Yama (1st)

Universal rules of conduct; how we should behave toward one another (including ourselves) for optimal universal happiness. We are all linked by an inner divinity or atman and we share this planet so our individual actions affect everyone universally.

  • Ahimsa is non-violence.

Food is nourishment and provides our energy. To abstain from food is to neglect our bodies of carrying out their purpose in a harmful way. An anorexic body will start to eat its own muscle tissue to provide energy. The extreme weakness and fragility caused by undereating is our body’s way of crying out for nourishment and energy. In order to be compassionate to ourselves we must look after ourselves; the body is precious.

  • Satya: truthfulness.

Learn to honestly recognise those things that cause us suffering and pain. Samskaras (actions from our past) can be used as life lessons rather than creating addictions to avoid facing painful experiences. We have to be honest in recognising hunger and our bodily needs. Truthfully assess how we feel and acknowledge where these emotions are coming from; are psychological issues playing their part? If we cannot be honest with ourselves then there is little hope of us being so with others.

  • Asteya: non-stealing.

Taking something away from ourselves or others will only ever lead to pain and disappointment. Anorexics control what they eat entirely to control their emotions; in doing so they steal their right to live fully by becoming weak and disoriented. The practice of non-stealing can be flipped to its opposite: giving back. Give the body what it requires to survive, give energy for your sadhana, your dreams and goals. Don’t steal away the opportunities you have been given.

  • Brahmacharya: continence.

Yoga teaches that every thought, action and deed should be an offering to the wonder of creation itself. There are always glimmers of light even in the darkest of skys. Without the darkness we could never appreciate the light. Recognise the message in everything. Realise that to really gain control you have to let go. The message of the Bhagavad Gita is essentially to try your best at all times but recognise that you are never in control. We must accept what is and have faith in the divine.

  • Aparigraha: non-coveting.

Means to not hoard. Holding on to any destructive self-harming pattern in order to control your emotions shows a lack of belief in the divinity within. The opposite of holding on is to let go. Let go of the past and trust you can be beautiful, free and loved. I defy anyone to practice a conscious Surya Namaskar and not feel capable of conquering their dreams. Embrace the moment and take the leap trusting that a net will appear to catch you.


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