Yamas – codes to live by

In Patanjjali’s (the father of yoga) yoga sutra there are eight limbs which comprise the eight yamas adelaidefolded pathway to enlightenment. These limbs are seen as steps or guides on the yogic pathway.

The first limb is Yamas, which are deemed the restraints or codes to live by in society. The yamas are complemented by the niyamas which are our personal codes of practise.

‘The Yamas comprise the “shall not” in our dealings with the external world and the niyamas comprise the “shall do” in our dealings with the inner world,’  Wikipedia.

The purpose of both the yamas and the niyamas is a redirecting of energies, helping us to reduce karma and always move towards clarity. They can all be practised at a psychological level as well as physical. They also provide a solid foundation to move through the rest of the yogic limbs.

The yamas are:

Ahimsa (non harming)

This can translate as harmlessness, removal of harmful intention and absence of enmity. This manifests as the cultivation and practise of non violent thoughts, words, actions or intentions towards the external world, one another, animals (and all living things) and especially towards the self.

‘…may all beings look at me with a friendly eye, may I do likewise, and may we look at each other with the eyes of a friend,’ Yajur Veda.

It is believed that practising ahimsa cultivates love, where the violence or harm is removed, it creates space for only love.

Ahimsa can take the form of practicing loving thoughts, not hurting animals, not judging others and even avoiding pushing yourself to the point of injury in your asana practise.

Satya (truthfulness)

Satya is the practise of incorporating the continuous truth and honesty at all levels of your life (even towards the self), which helps produce greater self reflection and develops integrity and overcome delusions. It translates as unchangeable or continuous truth.

It is the action of focussing on thoughts and speech that do good as opposed to do harm.

‘In most ways, the practice of satya is about restraint: about slowing down, filtering, carefully considering our words so that when we choose them, they are in harmony with the first yama, ahimsa. Patanjali and his major commentators state that no words can reflect truth unless they flow from the spirit of nonviolence,’ Yoga Journal.

The most wonderful gift you can give yourself is the truth.

Asteya (non stealing/non coveting)

Asteya focusses on taking something without permission, which isn’t just limited to physical goods. This can also extend into taking someone’s time, ideas or space and even hoarding unnecessary possessions.

Here are some great practical ways of practising asteya.

‘Asteya also includes the concept that you should try to be content with what comes to you by honest means,’ Yoga 108.

Bramacharya (chastity)

This is the practise of managing sexual energy and whilst it may not manifest in the form of abstinence, it can be the practise of mindful relations and adhering to ahimsa towards the self and others. Some yogis choose to embrace this yama as self imposed celibacy.

The belief around this is that celibacy is beneficial in reserving prana, which encourages or is required for enlightenment. Yogis also believe that bramacharya can lead to physical and mental wellness and clarity, good health and inner peace and clarity.

It can also be considered the control of the senses.

‘According to the Yoga Sutras, the end-result or fruit of Brahmacharya practised to perfection is unbounded energy and vitality.’ Wikipedia

 Aparigraha (non possessiveness)

This is the practise of greedlesness, non attachment to material and impermanent things which is said to create a pathway for a mindset of flowing abundance by letting go of the desire of things. With the removal of neediness and desire, comes contentment and peace.

Anything that can be lost, we shouldn’t be attached to but rather we should act from and value those things that can never truly be lost, such as love, ‘…the work you put into improving yourself, quieting your mind, learning how to behave in a moral and ethical manner, and learning how to act in accordance with your true inner self is something that can never be lost,’ Instant Good Karma.

‘The yogi feels that the collection or hoarding of things implies a lack of faith in God or himself to provide for his future,’ Light on Yoga, BKS Iyengar, page 35.

Addtionally, there are other yamas which are not as well known or as common. They are Daya (compassion), Arjava (rectitude), Kshama (forebearance/patience), Dhriti (steadiness), Mita-Ahara (moderate eating).

Stay tuned for our post about Niyamas.

Read our What Does Yoga Actually Mean? post.

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Get to Know Your yogafusion – Sally Martin

Meet the instructor – Sally Martin (Sagittarius – the archer)

 

When did your yoga journey start? And why did you start?

Sally Martin Adelaide

I tried yoga when I was in my early twenties as a method of recovery from rowing training. Rowing is a physically demanding sport with large amounts of time spent completing

training volume. As with most endurance type activities you

feel tired, fatigued and have sore and tight muscles a lot of the time. I went along to a local community yoga class and could not believe how much relief I found for my lower back and how soundly I slept after the yoga session.

Describe your first class?

The first class I attended was held in a classroom at a local primary school. It was winter so we covered ourselves in a blanket for final savasana. I loved how my body felt at the end of class but I remember finding it slow and I struggled to be present. My “monkey mind” was nattering away the whole time, something that I am still working on. About eight years later I started practicing Bikram after reading an article about it in the paper, the heat and the physical challenge appealed to me.

What led you to decide to become a yoga instructor?

After practising Bikram fairly consistently for a few years I started to really enjoy the connection between movement and breath and grew to see and appreciate the benefits yoga brought to my life.  My husband, Chris, and I started at yogafusion a few years later and loved the style, mindfulness and instruction we received at the studio. Teaching others to appreciate yoga and to give back has motivated me to pursue teaching.

What do you find most rewarding about being a yoga instructor? And most challenging?

Although I am relatively new to teaching I have appreciated when students have come up after class and said they could identify with a quote or reading that I have shared. The most challenging thing has been to “get over myself” (fears, apprehensions, and nervousness) and stand up in front of a class to teach.

Describe where yoga has helped you overcome a challenge in life.

Yoga has helped me become more cantered and grateful. I love the way it makes me feel physically and the mental clarity it can help create. Yoga has also assisted me greatly through periods of my life when I was making transitions with life direction, relationships and my career. Through yoga I have learnt about the Yamas and Niyamas and continually try to apply this wisdom to life and my practise.

What else do you do in life, aside from yoga? Eg, job, hobbies, lifestyle, creative outlets

I love bike riding, swimming at the beach or lake, skiing and travelling. Occasionally, I will jump into a boat and go for a row. I am a high school teacher and teach health/physical education as well as looking after the girls’ sports program at my school.

 

What is your favourite yoga pose and why?

Currently my favourite posture is Dandayamana Dhanurasana, I had a few “aha” moments with this posture at teacher training. I love the way it opens the front of the body, lengthens the standing leg hamstring, requires balance, concentration and can be enhanced/ influenced by your breath.

 

 

What is the yoga pose that challenges you the most and why?

I find Parivrtta Trikonasana really challenging, I have only just started to connect and feel the foundations of this posture. The revolving and stacking my shoulders will take me some time but I’m looking forward to this journey.

 

What is your greatest fear?

Having, seeing and being near dirty feet! Maybe not an ideal fear for a yoga instructor!

 

Do you have any long term yoga goals?

To improve my Parivrtta Trikonasana, this is definitely going to take me a long time, which is fine – I have time. I also aim to teach with more intuition and fluidity.

 

Describe your lifestyle and eating habits:

I try to do some sort of exercise daily, usually I like to practise early in the day. I find it is a great way to get the day underway, you feel good, energised and ready to go. Chris and I try to eat things that are not processed or refined, we include lots of vegetables, fruit and nuts but delicious dark chocolate is a semi regular feature in my diet.

 

If you were a supermarket item, what would you be? Why?

A chocolate covered almond, mostly healthy with some yummy stuff thrown in.

 

If you could only instil one thing from yoga to your students, what would it be?

Practice Ahimsa (the first Yama); kindness to yourself and others.

 

What is your favourite thing in life? Besides yoga, of course!

Sharing a good meal with family or friends and being in water.

 

How would you cure world hunger if you had the chance?

Remove foreign debts and support local farmers to supply local communities.

 

Do you have a life strategy or a personal philosophy that rarely fails you?

Stop, breathe, go again!

 

Tell me something that not many people know about you?

I am a two time World Champion in rowing.

 

Stop, breathe, go again!

Don’t forget to read up about Simon here.

Get to Know Your yogafusion – Simon Michelmore

Meet the instructor – Simon Michelmore

What do you find most rewarding about being a yoga instructor? And most challenging? Simon Michelmore

Teaching a class, or even just preparing to teach, challenges you to ask yourself a lot of questions – ones which are often difficult. Am I being genuine? Am I being present with the class, or simply “going through the motions?” And countless others. They can be very similar to questions that you would ask yourself during your own practise, but they now become directed outwards as you want to strive for each and every student to be able to find what it is that they need.

In the process of trying to be sincere, it also means that you have to be vulnerable in a very public way. I know that when I go to practice in a class, the last thing I want is the teacher to be placing themselves on a pedestal and preaching from on high to me. Instead I believe that we simply desire for them to relate to us as one human being to another.

In attempting to do that you end up running head first into a bunch of your insecurities and confronting someone that can be either your best friend or your worst enemy – yourself. A person who knows all of your secret fears and regrets and, given a chance, can easily use them against you. The challenge for me is to try and let go of those fears and just be open for people to read, imperfections and all.

As a teacher one of the most rewarding aspects is when you can see students directly challenging their own fears and, after the class is over, they walk out of the room as though they’re just that little bit lighter.

What is your favourite yoga pose and why?

Parivitta Trikonasana. One of the core postures that we teach, but often the most under appreciated. To really get “into” the posture, it requires you to focus on every single part of the body from the feet and legs, right through the hips and spine, and into the head and fingers.

Describe your first class?

Weirdly familiar, as it had echoes of various martial arts, but at the same time different enough that I was thrown completely out of my comfort zone. Rather than being the rather constant movement that I’d experienced with most forms of exercise, with a lot of fast action and dynamism, you were encouraged to find the pose and then be still with it. It required that I put aside every assumption I’d unknowingly made before and moved me – little by little – to be quiet.

 

When did your yoga journey start? And why did you start?

 

Late 2001. I came from a martial arts background and, after our school disbanded, I’d been looking for something along similar lines for several years. When several friends talk about their yoga practise, I become intrigued enough to go a beginners’ course at a studio in town.

After the initial eight weeks of the course were up and I realised that my weeks felt incomplete if I wasn’t attending a few classes, I was hooked and knew that I’d found what I’d been searching for!

What led you to decide to become a yoga instructor?

It was more of an evolutionary process, as opposed to a revolutionary one. I’d be practicing for over a decade, with the regularity of my practise growing each week, but I had never actually considered my practise to be anything other than “for me.” Once I started at yogafusion, Sue encouraged me to think about going to teacher training and – honestly – at first I thought she was just being supportive and telling me I was “doing okay” in a diplomatic, roundabout way.

When I realised that she was quite serious, I took about a year to think about it and decided that, at the very least, it would be a once in life experience, even if I decided to not actually move into teaching.

Once the course was over, however, there wasn’t a shred of doubt left that I wanted to be in the room and guiding people through their practise.

What is your greatest fear?

For some reason I have a quite irrational fear of deep water (I put it down to seeing Jaws to many times when I was about five years old). Despite the fact that I enjoying surfing; am a competent swimmer; and am regularly out in the ocean, I always feel uneasy when I can’t see the seafloor beneath me.

Describe where yoga has helped you overcome a challenge in life:

Everybody has their own personal hurdles in life to overcome; for me a large one has been learning to cope with depression, which I was diagnosed with in my early twenties.

I started yoga with the idea of the physical practise helping me deal with it, as it would be an excellent form of exercise. Although that was certainly important, it didn’t take me too long to discover that the real benefits came not from how deep I could go into Trikonasana or if I could do the full splits, but questioning the very assumption of why I believed I needed to be “deeper into the posture” in the first place.

What else do you do in life, aside from yoga? Eg, job, hobbies, lifestyle, creative outlets

My hobbies have a habit of starting off being casual interests and then become larger and larger parts of my life before I know it. As a result I dabbled with computer programming as a teenager, and it’s now what I do fulltime. I was interested in cinema from a fairly young age, which led to me being in the film and TV industries for several years, where I worked on various feature films, documentaries and short films.

Outside of “work,” I like finding the balance between seeing friends and family often, but also setting aside some time for myself and enjoy something quiet.

What is the yoga pose that challenges you the most and why?

One legged pigeon – Eka Pada Kapotasana. If you want to challenge yourself to find stillness amidst difficulty, this might be the pose that someone should try. If anything challenging – mentally or emotionally – is occurring in your life, then this will bring it right to the front of your conciousness. The exercise is then to stay with it, despite every instinct of the ego telling you to do otherwise, and just let it be.

Describe your lifestyle and eating habits:

I like to be active – even if it’s just a simple walk with my dog – and eat well. But I do have to make sure that my house is devoid of chocolate or anything sweet, or they generally don’t last more than a few hours.

If you were a supermarket item, what would you be? Why?

Fish oil. Nobody really knows what it does, but apparently it’s really good for you, so … why not?

If you could only instil one thing from yoga to your students, what would it be?

Take on board the essential, strip out the unnecessary and add what is uniquely your own.

What is your favourite thing in life? Besides yoga, of course!

Friends, a film and good bottle of red wine. Preferably with chocolate (type irrelevant).

How would you cure world hunger if you had the chance?

Give every world leader a conscience. Do that and the problems of the globe would be solved in a matter of days.

Do you have a life strategy or a personal philosophy that rarely fails you? simon michelmore

I find a lot of life seems to be dictated by the idea of ‘Thou shalt not.’ Instead, I like to approach everything with the idea of ‘Thou shalt.’

Tell me something that not many people know about you?

I’m quite the geek … actually, people probably already do know that!

 

Read up on our other staff members here.

Get to Know Your yogafusion – Amy Light

Meet the instructor – Amy Light (cuspy Virgo and Libra)Amy Light Yogafusion Adelaide

When did your yoga journey start? And why did you start?

My yoga journey began in the second to last year of high school (2003). Yoga was something I knew little about before I started and I just felt this  strong urge to try it out. It transpired that I enjoyed it so much I started practising every morning before school.

Describe your very first class?

What I remember the most about my first class is how it made me feel – really connected with my body, invigorated, alive and that I wanted to keep practising and learning more.

Describe where yoga has helped you overcome a challenge in life.

Yoga helps me to be completely aware of myself – watching my reactions and feelings as they arise (especially when things don’t go as planned) so that I can choose what’s useful and not useful in a situation.

What led you to decide to become a yoga instructor?

There were two main reasons:

Firstly, I wanted to change my own lifestyle (especially work wise) as I was I had no time for myself or others when I was taking on long hours at work and starting to develop stress related health issues.

Secondly, as yoga has impacted my body, life choices and the way I look at things in such a powerful way, I felt drawn to want  to share and pass on the benefits and ancient teachings to others.

Describe your lifestyle and eating habits:

I’ve been a vegetarian for the last thirteen years and I like to eat fresh nourishing food and  to know where its come from. I really like the idea of being as self sufficient as possible. I cook most of my own food and like to eat what’s in season at the time and try not to over complicate things. When I do dine out I enjoy eating Japanese and Korean food.

If you were a supermarket item, what would you be? Why?

A mango – as it’s my favourite fruit and reminds me of summer, holidays, the beach and Christmas which one of my favourite times of the year!

What do you find most rewarding about being a yoga instructor? Any most challenging?

Probably what’s most rewarding is knowing that I’m coming into the studio each day for yogafusion amy light adelaidesomeone other than myself and that one word I say or one movement that I teach has the power to change someone’s day and their life, potentially.

Probably the most challenging thing I found when I first started teaching and still often do is when I’ve got a lot going on in my own life and then to be able to put it all aside and show up 100% (be present) for my students.

What else do you do in life, aside from yoga? Eg, job, hobbies, lifestyle, creative outlets

My “other” job is as a chef. I’ve worked as a fulltime chef for seven years and for the past two years I have spent a couple of days per week as a pastry chef in a patisserie. This extends into my spare time as I love cooking for my family and friends.

I love summer and the outdoors, especially swimming at the beach (where I practically live in the summer.) I love to go snowboarding in the winter when I get the chance (one of the very few activities that get me out in the cold of winter.) I also enjoy spending time outside in the garden whether it’s at my own house or at my parents vegie garden.

Just take things one breath at a time (both on and off the mat) enjoying and accepting each moment for what it is!

What is your favourite yoga pose and why? What is the yoga pose that challenges you the most and why?

Incidentally, my favourite postures are often the ones that challenge me, also as everyday this changes for me depending on how I’m feeling, what’s on my mind and what;s going on physically. Every practise I find myself experiencing two types of “favourite” poses. There are oness that allow me to completely be myself and honour the place where I’m at – where I can find complete strength/support with complete surrender at the same time and be completely united with the breath.

And then poses that challenge me in some way whether it be physical limits, whether it interferes with my breath, or whether it conjures up a reaction – (eg being uncomfortable, doubting myself, being frustrated). This indicates that there’s something here for me to observe, discover and learn about myself.

If you could only instil one thing from yoga to your students, what would it be?

Just to take things one breath at a time (both on and off the mat) enjoying and accepting each moment for what it is! This extends as my personal philosophy as well.

What is your favourite thing in life? Besides yoga, of course!

Spending time with my family and friends.

How would you cure world hunger if you had the chance?

Seen as so much of the world’s food is wasted it would great to somehow distribute the excess to those in need.

 

You can also read about Andrew, Margarita, Sue and Emma!