Dr. Force

Ancient Yogic Wisdom for Your Health Today: Yamas

“The Self is not to be found in the outside world. Rather it is the nucleus of our inmost being.”

~Georg Feuerstein

Yoga has so much more to offer us beyond the commercialized version of an exercise class for a hot body. This is a quick exploration of the eightfold path of yoga as outlined by Patanjali sometime between the 2nd and 4th century in his yoga sutras with an inclusion of modern interpretation for your everyday life.

We start with the yamas, which are 5 moral principles to live by for a good life.

Ahimsa: non-violence.

Start with the self. Give ourselves grace for our foibles, health challenges, and for being human! When we are kind to ourselves and act as our own best friend, we are then able to model that in the world and our interactions with others. Shift from an “I have to…” attitude to an “I get to…” attitude to begin transitioning to a more empowered way of self talk.

Satya: truth.

Many of us spend so much time and energy portraying to the world the person that we think they want us to be or the person we’ve been told is acceptable. Let’s start telling the truth! This starts by taking a deep dive into who we truly are at our core. We may find this is congruent with the person we are in the world and if so, congratulations. If not, it is time to start chipping away at the things that are not us. Dream journaling is a great way to start with this exploring the subconscious themes that arise and taking a look at what they mean for the core of who we are.

Asteya: non-stealing.

I like to interpret this as living a simple life and not taking more to a point that it deprives another of their needs and, also, to never cheat or swindle another. If we have the good fortune to have our needs and wants met, how can we lighten the load for another? Where can we contribute to the betterment of humanity or our planet? There is no need for hoarding or a scarcity mindset if we are all looking for ways to lend our excess resources to those in need.

Brahmacharya: using our vital force for spiritual goals.

We are all given the same number of hours a day to achieve the things we desire. Let’s use this time and energy wisely! I think of spiritual here as all encompassing of our ultimate life purpose. In what way are we being of service to society? What do we bring to the table? What is the legacy we wish to leave behind and what are the things we wish to accomplish and experience? I encourage us to not be haphazard with our time letting it slip away through unnecessary rumination, excess social media, news, TV time. Have drive, have passion and go for those goals!

Aparigraha: non-possessiveness.

So much time is wasted on wishing things were different. The constant “if I have this thing I can do this” or “when I have xyz I will be happy.” We have each been gifted a unique set of abilities and resources. The trick is to find how the things we already possess guide us toward our ultimate self expression. Having a gratitude practice is really useful here.

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