When we practice the Yamas we are cultivating a self-awareness which helps us to cultivate our own sense of positivity and peace and ward off negativity.
We should try to practice the Yamas in all aspects of our life, our thoughts, our words and our actions.
Ahimsa - 'non-violence'
Ahimsa is a vast and broad-reaching Yama, which we can take into every element of our lives and into many levels. In Sanskrit, the prefix A means 'not' while Himsa means 'harming, injuring, killing, or doing violence'. This commitment to non-violence extends from ourselves to others and the environment.
We can choose to eat cruelty-free diets (vegan/vegetarian) and buy ethically made products, but no matter which actions we choose to take to reduce harm, let it be guided by Ahimsa. consider it your dedication to thinking, speaking and acting with kindness, respect, acceptance, and forgiveness for both others and ourselves. It is the road to harmony.
Satya - 'truthfulness'
Satya is interpreted as seeing and reporting things as they are, not as we wish they were. Possibly the hardest part of Satya isn't avoiding lying outwardly, but lying to ourselves. Ignoring our emotions, letting them dam up and inevitably flow over in a wave of negativity.
Practice Tip: Look for the kindest words that factually describe what you'r seeing. If you notice negative emotions starting to swirl, try to identify how they distort your perseptions.
Asteya - 'non-stealing'
We most commonly associate stealing with physical objects, but in our daily lives, it is the intangible that gets stolen more often. Things like time, knowledge, emotional favours.
Just like physical objects, the stealing of intangibles comes from the need to have it or have more of it. Therefore, when we can recognise our needs internally, we can learn to satisfy it ourselves. Sometimes this means knowing that we are enough as we are. And that is much easier to say than do.
Practice Tip: Practice charity, giving time, food, money, wealth is just a state of mind, cultivate your inner wealth by giving up possessions.
Brahmacharya - 'right use of energy'
Brahmacharya translates as 'walking in God-consciousness', but we can also interpret it as 'moderating the senses'. Practically speaking, that means learning to turn our minds inwards to recognise the needs and desires underlying our consumption.
When we understand what need we are trying to fill by external means, then we can start to learn how to meet that need internally. When our minds are free from cravings for external remedies, then we will find inner joy.
Practice Tip: Take time to reflect on the things you consume; the books magazines you read, the T.V you watch, the company you keep; how do they influence your energy, your desires, and your cravings?
Aparigraha - 'non-greed' or 'non-hoarding'
Graha means 'to grasp' and Pari means 'things', thus aparigraha means 'not grasping things' or non-possessiveness. The purpose of Aparigraha is to learn to take only what we need and to overcome our desire to call things mine.
As the old maxim goes “All the things of the world are yours to use, but not to own”. The problem lies not in our possession of things, but the emotional attachments made to them.
All of the Yamas serve as lessons in self-awareness how we interact with the world around us, and in turn how our world impacts us. While we can't control the world, we can wield the power of ourselves, actively creating our own happiness, purpose, harmony, and peace.
Practice Tip: Start to examine your own traits of possessiveness. Do you take better care of an object in your possession than one belonging to someone else? Do you acquire more of something then you really need? Do you depend too much on others, give more in a relationship then is healthy for you?