The Ten Commandments of Yoga

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Ten Commandments of Yoga

As I child, I was raised Christian.

What that meant for my family is that I was dragged (sometimes literally) by the hair to church every Sunday, stuffed in a room for bible study every Thursday, and forced to sit through agonizing lectures I couldn’t comprehend every Christmas and Easter.

My introduction to religion was just about torture.

Which is why it’s no wonder as I grew into my independence, religion became something I was aggressively averse to.

Now, yoga is my religion. There is a hint of Tibetan buddhism involved in the practices I’m learning, as well as a bit of Taoism, and Jainism, but for the most part, there’s an emphasis on God as a being of infinite love That dwells within each and every one of us, connecting us all together. 

And as for the ethics, well, that’s what the eight limbs of yoga are for.

The first two limbs of yoga contain the “ten commandments” of yoga, and are the most connected to the more traditional religions of the world.

The yamas, the first limb of yoga, are also known as the restraints. They are the guidelines for how to ethically interact with the outer world, or others.

The yamas consist of the following:

Ahimsa: non-violence (or Thou shall not kill)
Satya: truthfulness (or Thou shall not lie)
Asteya: non-stealing (or Thou shall not steal)
Bramacharya: healthy boundaries; self-restraint and moderation
Aparigraha: non-greed 

The niyamas follow the yamas, and are known as the practices. They are the guidelines for how to connect with ourselves, so that our inner world may flourish.

The niyamas consist of the following:

Saucha: cleanliness; purity of mind, body, and spirit
Santosha: a deep okayness with what is; contentment
Tapas: self-discipline; steadfastness
Svadyaya: self-study; introspection; self-awareness
Isvara pradidhana: surrender to God; celebration and gratitude for spirit

I’ll go over each “guideline” with more detail in separate posts, but this is the basic structure of ethics for my religion.

And the best part?

Anyone can practice yoga, guilt and obligation free.

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