The Yama Niyama are like the Ten Commandments of the East, sometimes referred to as Do’s and Don’ts. Yama is social behavior, how you treat others and the world around you. Yamas are the moral principles of the world, sometimes, and they are called the Don’ts. There are five Yamas:
1. Nonviolence (ahimsa). Do no harm to any creature in thought or deed.
2. Truth and honesty (satya). Tell no lies. (Cheating on your income taxes falls into this category.)
3. Not stealing (asteya). Do not steal material objects (for example, a car) or intangibles, such as the center of attention or your child's chance to learn responsibility or independence by doing something on his or her own.
4. Nonlust (brahmacharya). Don't worry. This is not a call to celibacy. Many yogis of old were married and had families of their own. The person who practices brahmacharya avoids meaningless sexual encounters and, as the well-known teacher B.K.S. Iyengar puts it, "sees divinity in all."
5. Nonpossessiveness (aparigraha). Free yourself from greed, hoarding and collecting. Do you really need more shoes, another car, or to hog the conversation every time you see your friends? Make your life as simple as possible.
Practicing these Don’ts might feel restrictive at first, depending on where you are on your journey, but in time they do bring about peace and harmony in your life and to all those around you.
Next week: The Niyamas, also known as the Do’s.
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