Cozy Yoga Life by Shannon Caldwell

Cozy Yoga Life Ep05: Practicing the Five Yamas

February 27, 2024 Shannon Caldwell Season 1 Episode 5
Cozy Yoga Life by Shannon Caldwell
Cozy Yoga Life Ep05: Practicing the Five Yamas
Show Notes Transcript

The five yamas serve as moral and ethical guidelines. In this episode, join me as I focus on these foundational principles, derived from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and together we'll explore how you can practice and integrate them into modern life. 🧘‍♂️

Links related to this episode:

Connect with me:

You're listening to Cozy Yoga Live, the podcast for yoga teachers who crave more from their practice and lives. I'm Shannon Codwell, and I'll be your guide on this journey of simplicity, self care and self discovery. So let's cozy up, unwind, and dive into today's episode. Hello, cozy crew. In this episode, I'm going to dive a little deeper into the first limb of the eight limbs of yoga. If you listened to the previous podcast episode where I outlined the eight limbs, you may remember that there are five yamas. A quick sidebar, I do my best with Sanskrit, but it comes with a Texas accent and I may not pronounce it all correctly, but I try because it's important to honor the language in which it was originally written. Sanskrit is a beautiful language, complex, with lots of layers. A lot of different interpretations and meanings depending on the context in which it's used. So, I'm going to do my best to balance between the English translations as I understand them and the Sanskrit. My three favorite resources for when I am studying the Yoga Sutras are a website called swamij. com and two Yoga Sutra interpretations. The first one is the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, an illustration. And this is by Gary Kasaya And the second one is the Sutras Included in the Back of the Heart of Yoga by TKV Desikachar. In the podcast where I outlined the eight limbs, I talked about yamas being loosely translated to meaning restraints, and that this would be how our actions related to our external world. The website, Swamijay. com, says that the yamas have to do with training your actions, speech, and thoughts in relation to the external world, particularly with regard to other people. And the five yamas are a means of building that relationship. Swami J's reference reminds me of the quote, Watch your thoughts for they become your words. Watch your words, for they become your actions. Watch your actions, for they become your habits or your beliefs. The five Yamas in English are non violence, truthfulness, non stealing, moderation, and non greediness. In my Texas accented Sanskrit that is a ssa, Satya, AYA, RIA, and Aparigraha. You may have noticed when I was going through the five yamas in Sanskrit that several of them began with an A or an A sound, a ssa Ari gra hawk. In Sanskrit, many times when you see an A in front of the word, it negates it. For example, himsa means violence or harming. Place the A before it and you get ahimsa, which means the opposite of harming or injury. The same applies to steya being stealing, Asteya being non stealing, Parigraha being greediness, and Aparigraha being non greediness. Beginning with Ahimsa, roughly translated to non harming, non violence, Non injury. An obvious example of non harming would be that we don't physically hurt or harm another individual. For many people, non harming or ahimsa relates to the more blunt or coarse description of violence. War, committing murder, physically assaulting someone those are all examples of nth degree Ahimsa, violence. If we think about this in terms of how Swami J outlined it, thoughts, speech, and actions, then ahimsa or nonviolence actually starts with ourselves. It starts with the thoughts that we have about ourselves, how we talk about ourselves, and the actions that we take toward ourselves. It's only once we are soft and gentle and non harming to ourselves, can we have that empathy that grows and expands enough that we can extend that to other people, to all that external world around us. It's no accident that Ahimsa is our number one Yama. It precludes everything that we do. It precludes all of the moral and ethical principles outlined in the Yamas and the Niyamas and the rest of the eight limbs. Truthfulness. Thoughtya. Truthfulness, again, we look at this in all of our thoughts and our words and our actions. We try to be truthful in every manner that we're able to be. There's only one time that we don't put truthfulness ahead of everything else. And that is when it goes in direct conflict of ahimsa. So, if you being truthful is going to cause harm to another, it's better to not say anything at all. It's better to not provide the truth. As we go through these five yamas, and in the next episode, I'm going to talk about the five niyamas, you might see how some of these we learned about when we were kids, our parents gave them to us as adages. I think about the book that was written many years ago, Everything I Needed to Know About Life I Learned in Kindergarten. You may see the correlation as well. We've talked about nonviolence and we've talked about truthfulness. That brings us to our third yama, which is non stealing. Non stealing encompasses the obvious. We don't go into a bank and rob it. We don't go into a retail store and shoplift. We don't physically steal from another person, but it can also expand to mean that we don't rob another of their energy, that we don't take more from them than what they are offering. We don't steal ideas. We don't take credit when it's not ours to take credit for. I'll be honest, this stealing of time is a yama that I struggle with. I am perpetually late., I have to work extra hard to be at places on time. Other individuals on time is being early. My brain does not operate that way. On time is on time. I have calculated exactly how much time it will take me to arrive someplace, sometimes not factoring in for things like traffic and wrecks. And so I can run late. If I'm meeting with another individual, if I have an appointment that I'm needing to keep, that attitude is stealing from the individual or the appointment that I'm trying to keep. It's not fair that I do that to the individual who is showing up on time. I am placing more importance on my time than I am on the other individual. The next Yama is moderation. Moderation is a very modern interpretation of the word Brahmacharya. We can translate this from Sanskrit as meaning chastity. Unfortunately, when we use the term chastity, a lot of us get kind of the wrong connotation about this particular Yama. Chastity meant that we were chaste. Chased in our thoughts, chased in our words, chased in our actions. If we look at the more modern interpretation as moderation, we want to walk the middle path. We don't want to be in an extreme on either side. We don't want to be overindulgent, but we don't want to be underindulgent either. It's about each of us individually finding the balance that works for us. One way you can look at moderation is in today's diet mentality. Some simple scrolling through your favorite social media platform and you can see that the influencers, so many of them have an all or nothing mentality towards dieting. If you want to do a, then you have to completely give up B. Brahmacharya teaches us that extremes never work. We have to walk the middle road. In terms of the diet culture and extreme diet isn't going to work. We have to learn how to have a healthy relationship with food. We have to learn what foods work better for us, and it's not always the same. One of us can eat nuts and another person can't eat nuts, they have an allergic reaction. The fifth Yama, is Parigraha, or non greediness. This is the Yama that, in my opinion, I feel like most people, first world people, struggle with this one. In a world with, bit box stores and online shopping, it becomes super easy, super convenient to just go out and mindlessly buy. To purchase something because it's on sale, or it's on clearance, or it's readily available without taking the time to really need it. Think about whether you actually need it or not. Is it a want or is it a need? I use this example with my own closet. When I go into my closet, I have one full drawer of nothing but yoga pants. And I justify every yoga pant purchase under the clause that I am a yoga teacher. Therefore, I wear yoga pants. And therefore, I need lots of yoga pants. But the truth of the matter is, there's seven days in a week. At most, I can wear seven pair of yoga pants. without doing laundry. So do I really need the 12 or the 15 or the 20 pairs of yoga pants? The honest answer is no. Now let's take that one step above. Do I need all of those yoga pants to be super expensive name brand yoga pants? Looking at our yamas, between moderation and non greediness. One, how many pair of yoga pants does a yoga teacher need? And how expensive do those yoga pants need to be to teach yoga or to practice yoga? Understand this is not about yoga pants shaming It's about bringing awareness. Where are we easily following the yamas? Where do we struggle to follow? Where can we be better? Where can we improve? No matter how long you've been practicing, no matter how long you've been adapting the sutras into your life, there's always room for improvement. I taught sutras the first time twenty years ago in my first yoga teacher training program, and some of the things that I struggled with in that first class are things that I still struggle with twenty years later. There are things that I've gotten completely better about. There are things that I seesaw back and forth with. However, I always have these guides to return to, these principles that I can renew my awareness with. Let's review those five yama again. The first one is ahimsa or non violence. We're going to practice this Yama by not physically hurting individuals. We're not going to go punch someone in the nose or kick them in the shin. From a personal perspective, we're going to practice nonviolence in our thoughts, in our speech, in our actions. The second one was truthfulness. We strive to be truthful in all matters. We strive to be truthful to people, that what we are sharing with them, we know them to be true. The only time that we're not sharing this truthfulness with an individual is when it goes in conflict of opinion. Non harming. So, if the words we say will be harmful, we just don't say them. The third yama is esteya or non stealing. A way to obviously practice non stealing is we're not going to take anything that doesn't belong to us, but we can also practice that in terms of time and energy and ideas. The fourth yama is moderation or brahmacharya. We're practicing the middle way, avoiding the extremes. We want to find that balance. The last Yama is a Parigraha, non greediness. You must decide for yourself how much is enough. And that is in anything that you do or say or possess. How many pairs of yoga pants do I truly need to own? I live in Texas, how many pairs of flip flops does an individual need? If you live in colder states, it may be, how many pairs of gloves does the person need? I don't live in a cold state, so forgive me if that was a poor example of how much you can have too much of. Now that we've had a chance to talk about the five yamas, I would love to hear from you. Share with me how you plan to adapt one, or more, or all of the yamas into your life. That wraps another soul nourishing episode of Cozy Yoga Life. As always, thank you for letting me be a part of your yoga journey. If you enjoyed today's authentic conversation, please subscribe, rate, and leave a review. Until next time, stay cozy, take care of yourself, and keep it real.