In my 5-Part Yamas Series I shared with you my study and practice of the 1st limb of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, the yamas, which are the ethical principles and practices that are fundamental to our lives.  They are guidelines to help us live our lives with purpose.  I emphasize the word “guidelines” as these aren’t black and white rules.  One aspect of the yoga philosophy I love is that it takes into account that we are perfectly imperfect humans doing the best we can.  I certainly am not perfect, I don’t practice yoga every day, but I’m finding more and more ways to incorporate it in my life.  This is one of the reasons I wrote the 5-Part Yamas Series---to help me stay focused on my practice and I hope it has helped you as well. 

To keep us in the groove of practicing, I thought it would be beneficial to provide a quick overview of what we covered.  Plus, I have compiled 5 more ways we both can practice the yamas!  This time, each practice is focused on improving our relationships with others.  Helping to create closer, kinder connections.  This is the goal of yoga---to help us realize that everyone (and everything) is interconnected!


Yoga practices to help improve your relationships

As you know, there are an infinite number of ways to practice yoga in our daily lives, both on and off our mats.  In fact, the best opportunities to practice come from our relationships with others, especially those closest to us! In this blog I’m challenging you to practice each of the 5 yamas with the people in your life.  Sounds a little scary, right?  But, isn’t that how we grow?  Before we dive into these practices let’s do a quick review the yamas.


A Summary of the Yamas

The yamas make up the first limb of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, a road map that guides us how to live our lives.  They are a set of ethical principles that are meant to guide how we relate to others and how we treat all living creatures and our planet.  The yamas emphasize our connection to other beings as an integral part of yoga because everything is interconnected.  We are not separate.  Therefore, what we think, feel and do really does have a direct impact on our world.  The 5 practices within the yamas are listed below. If you’d like to learn more about each of them, simply click on the practice of interest for more details. 

Ahimsā – non-harming
Satya - honesty
Asteya – not stealing
Bramacharya – the wise use of creative/sexual energy
Aparigraphā – non-possessiveness

5 Practices to Explore

I’m challenging you to practice each yama for one full day, in the order outlined below.  Ideally, you would tackle each one of the yamas over a 5-day period, but no worries if that doesn’t happen. I know life can get in the way!  So, it’s okay if you skip a day or 2 between each practice.  Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of these practices:

  1. Meditate for 10-20 minutes each morning.
  2. Schedule each practice into your calendar so you are reminded at the beginning of each day.
  3. Place notes around your home and office to help remind you of that day’s practice.
  4. Journal about your experiences each evening.
  5. Just do your best!

Yamas practices to bring you closer to others:


Day 1 – Ahimsā, Non-Harming – Today see others through a lens of love and compassion. Practice patience and assume the best instead of the worst out of them. Practice this with every person you come across: the man driving really slow in the car in front of you on your way to work (take a deep breath and practice patience---consider that there may be a good reason he is driving slowly) or your mother---which is usually the one person that triggers you the most!

Day 2 – Satya, Honesty – Satya is the practice of being honest.  But it is also about being non-harming (ahimsā) with your words.  So today, speak honestly, but also realize that your words have an effect on you and others.  Think about how you feel when you complain about someone versus how you feel when you are complimenting someone.  You can literally feel the positive or negative energy.  If you feel it, so can the other person.  For today, only say things that uplift you and others.  But keep it authentic.  If you don’t have anything nice to say, then just keep quiet.


Day 3 – Asteya, Not Stealing – Consider how you may steal from others on more subtle levels.  Focus on not taking what isn’t freely given to you.  This could be how you might be draining other people’s energy.  Or how you may be wasting their time.  Think of ways to be considerate of them.  For example, be on time to a scheduled appointment.  Follow through with your commitments to others—do what you said you were going to do.  Don’t talk over people.

Day 4 – Bramacharya, Wise Use of Creative/Sexual Energy – Today’s focus is to treat yourself and others with dignity and respect when it comes to sex. I realize this isn’t a topic that may be easy for you to discuss.  Normally, I’m one to keep quiet on this issue. But it is important to express healthy views on sex.  It’s a very relevant discussion topic right now, so there will most likely be a chance for you to expressive your views on sex.  If this subject doesn’t come up naturally in conversation, can you bring it up? Only if appropriate, of course!  I’m asking you to be courageous because we need to hear more stories of people treating others with dignity and respect when it comes to sex. 


 

Day 5 – Aparigraha, Non-Possessiveness - Practice letting go of your preconceived notions about people.  We all have them.  Try to let go of your assumptions, expectations, wants and/or fears and just experience the moment with that person.  This is really hard to do, but give it a try.  When thoughts come up about that person, try to interrupt the thought by redirecting your attention to the present moment. You may be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.


Thank you for practicing the yamas with me. I hope it has inspired you to be 1) more compassionate with others; 2) more truthful, yet kind with your words; 3) considerate of other people’s time, value; 4) open in sharing healthy values about sex; and 5) less controlling of fixed ideas.

In July I will begin a new 5-part series on the niyamas, the 2nd limb of the 8 Limbs of Yoga which focus on self-disciplines.

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