Sunday, September 28, 2008


Yama is a “moral restraint” or rule for living virtuously. Ten yamas are codified in numerous scriptures, including the Hatha Yoga Pradipika compiled by Yogi Swatmarama, while Patanjali lists five yamas, and five niyamas (disciplines) in the Yoga Sutra.

The ten traditional yamas are:

* Ahimsa: Nonviolence. Abstinence from injury, or harm to any living creature in thought, word, or deed. This is the “main” Yama. The other nine are there in support of its accomplishment.
* Satya: Truthfulness in word and thought (in conformity with the facts).
* Asteya: No stealing, no coveting, no entering into debt.
* Brahmacharya: Divine conduct, continence, celibate when single, faithful when married.
* Kshama: Patience, releasing time, functioning in the now.
* Dhriti: Steadfastness, overcoming non-perseverance, fear, and indecision; seeing each task through to completion.
* Daya: Compassion; conquering callous, cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings.
* Arjava: Honesty, straightforwardness, renouncing deception and wrongdoing.
* Mitahara: Moderate appetite, neither eating too much nor too little; nor consuming meat, fish, shellfish, fowl or eggs.
* Shaucha: Purity, avoidance of impurity in body, mind and speech.

Patanjali’s five yamas, or moral restraints, are ahimsa (non-injury), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (continence or chastity) and aparagriha (abstinence from avarice). He also lists five niyamas, or disciplines, which include shauca (purity), samtosha (contentment), tapas (asceticism), svadhyaya (study), and ishvara-pranidhana (devotion to the Lord).

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