You may have heard your teacher refer to the eight limbs of Raja Yoga in class to remind students of the stepping stones to stilling the mind.
There are 5 yamas or avoidances we should begin to observe if we wish to undertake the yogic path. They help us to maintain a healthy mind and body.
Ahimsa – not harming self or other living things. This includes physical, emotional, verbal harm etc and applies equally to ourselves. Practicing compassion and kindness towards ourselves and other living things is the essence of ahimsa. We can apply ahimsa in our yoga practice by respecting our injuries and not practicing when we have a cold or are unwell.
Satya – truthfulness in word, thought and deed. But truth is more than the absence of lie-telling. Satya teaches a practice of truthfulness in our words, our thoughts and our actions, including to ourselves.
Asteya – non- stealing. Asteya teaches that everything we need in life is already within us. By choosing Asteya, we rise above our “base cravings” and become self-sufficient because we no longer desire something outside of ourselves.
Brahmacharya – Moderation, restraint and non-excess. Brahmacharya teaches us to recognize that moment of “just enough” so we don’t move past it into uncomfortable excess.
Aparigraha – non-covetousness, only taking what you need. Aparigraha teaches contentment with what we have, instead of grasping after what we don’t have.