An Understanding of Yams; First Limb of Ashtang Yoga

Yams are universal moral restrains mentioned in Vedas, Yogic texts, Upanishads, Smritis and Samhitas. Yams form the first set of moral codes of conduct for yoga aspirants and for any individual to live a harmonious and joyful life.

Yogic science is not only related to body, mind and spirituality but it’s a science that teaches a harmonious lifestyle and how people can coexist peacefully to make this world a better to live in.

The practice of yams depends on the stage of yoga practice and the individual\’s comfort and capacity.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra mentions about five Yams, whereas other Vedic texts mention about a total of ten Yams.

Five Primary Yams:

  1. Ahimsa:

Ahimsa means non-violence. Non-violence in any form. One should not harm/hurt others physically, emotionally and spiritually. One should not harm or hurt themselves too.

  1. Astery:

Astey means honesty or non-stealing. It means not having possession of anything which is not yours.

  1. Aparigrah:

Aparigrah means non-possession. It means not having or possessing anything beyond your requirement.

  1. Satya:

Satya means truth and purity. In Sanskrit, Sat means “that which is” Satya is not only about speaking the truth. Satya means having integrity in mind and deeds. Truthfulness in your words, thoughts and actions for others and for yourself.

  1. Brahmacharya:

Brahmacharya means continence or celibacy. Brahmacharya means not only abstaining from the sexual act but freeing your mind from such thoughts too.

Also read: What Is Ashtang Yoga?

Five Secondary Yams:

  1. Kshama:

Kshma means pardon. Forgive people and forgive yourself, free yourself from any kind of hurt, grief, anger, resistance. let it go.

  1. Dhruti:

Dhruti means courage. You need the courage to walk on the path of a higher purpose or to achieve something big.  

  1. Daya:

Daya means compassion and kindness. Be kind to others and to yourself. Have sympathy for others, help them as much as you can.

  1. Arjav:

Arjav means humbleness. Give up on ego and vaunt, be simple and grounded.

  1. Mitahar:

Mitahar means a friendly diet. Have food that is good for your body and for spiritual practices. Focus on the quality and quantity of the food.


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