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Yama: The First Limb of Yoga

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 0

Yama: God of Death

The Sanskrit word "yama" is translated into English to literally mean "death." An interesting side note to this translation is that a god by the name Yama is in fact the "god of death" (seen in the image above).The Yamas of yoga are the moral guidelines which are in place until one dies. It is likely debated as to whether or not it is appropriate to list guidelines to live ones life by when all beings, whether "good" or "evil" end up becoming a part of Brahman (the universal "god") in time. The intention of yoga is to create a level of decency in an individuals actions, and that is what I would consider the primary goal of this limb of yoga.

The Ten Traditional Yamas:

Ahimsa: Nonviolence. Abstinence from injury, harmlessness, the not causing of pain to any living creature in thought, word, or deed at any time. This is the "main" yama. The other nine are there in support of its accomplishment.
Satya: Truthfulness, word and thought in conformity with the facts.
Achaurya: Non-stealing, non-coveting, non-entering into debt.
Brahmacharya: Divine conduct, continence, celibate when single, faithful when married.
Kshama: Patience, releasing time, functioning in the now.
Dhriti: Steadfastness, overcoming non-perseverance, fear, and indecision; seeing each task through to completion.
Daya: Compassion; conquering callous, cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings.
Arjava: Honesty, straightforwardness, renouncing deception and wrongdoing.
Mitahara: Moderate appetite, neither eating too much nor too little; nor consuming meat, fish, shellfish, fowl or eggs.
Shaucha: Purity, avoidance of impurity in body, mind and speech.

One more side note: The main reason I feature the "god of death" is because I feel in essence the yama practice in yoga is essentially death to oneself. In order to live ones life in a moral way such as this, the body (both mentally and physicall) need to go through changes in some form or another.



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