What is Yama?

It’s easy to get caught up in life’s drama, to be focusing on personal gain and material possessions. But if we want to challenge ourselves and perhaps start a spiritual journey to learn about the mysteries of life, we can start with the first limb of the eightfold path of yoga, Yama.

Instead of giving the correct answers, they can help you ask the right questions: how do we live our lives, how do we treat each other, and what is it that we need to be ourselves?

What are the Yamas?

Yamas are moral, ethical, and spiritual guidelines for a person who aims to achieve balance, health, and well-being, leading to spiritual growth. Five different characteristics can be seen in our words, actions, and thoughts. They purify us and help to create a happier and healthier society.

Ahimsa – Non-Violence

Ahimsa is complete compassion for all living beings, including yourself. It means that we shouldn’t harm ourselves or other living things. We can begin to understand the true meaning of Ahimsa when we realize that we’re all connected and that hurting another person or thing is the same as harming ourselves.

Satya — Truthfulness

Satya means commitment to truth. It encourages us to be honest with ourselves and those around us. The truth can be scary, and we worry that we might hurt someone if we are sincere. Truth is often more damaging to us and our loved ones than not telling the truth. Truth can be delivered with compassion and care, and this can be liberating.

Asteya — Non-Stealing

Stealing is anything that we do not receive freely. It does not always mean taking money or property from someone. We rarely do that in our everyday lives. How often do we try to steal someone’s time, persuade them to do something that they do not want to do, or ask for their attention?

We should also cultivate an abundance-oriented mindset. We must realize that we have everything and don’t lack anything. Instead of trying to steal what we don’t naturally have, we can be grateful for the things that are already ours.

Brahmacharya — Sense Control

Brahmacharya can be interpreted as abstinence or celibacy. This means that we need to be more conscious of our sexual energy and not let it harm us or others.

Sexual experiences can enhance our spiritual journey when we allow them to be what they are at their best: intimate expressions between two people.

Aparigraha — Non-Coveting

Holding on to things prevents us from being free. This is not only about holding onto material objects but also about ideas and concepts we have about our lives, the events that occur in them, and ourselves.

We are more able to flow with life when we understand that it is constantly changing and evolving, just as we do. The Universe will provide all that we need.

How to Use the Yamas Everyday

It isn’t as difficult as it seems to cultivate these Yamas in your daily life.


Ask yourself if your thoughts, behaviors, and actions are promoting growth in you and others around you. Try to be more compassionate with other people.


What is your truth, and how do you know that it’s true? Do you base your truth on another person’s interpretation of truth, or do you have personal experience with it? Consider whether you really want to share a gossip.


Observe your feelings about life. Are you satisfied with your life, or do you always want more to make yourself happy and satisfy you? Do you steal time and attention, or do you demand it from others?


What do you spend your sexual and sensual energy on, and how do you express this side of yourself? You can use your power to express yourself without hurting others by balancing the senses.


Try to determine what you need to do to be yourself. Investigate how much you own in your life and what you have in return. Are you always acquiring more, or do you trust that life will provide you with what you need?

The Yamas can help us achieve balance and inner peace. These are the building blocks of a lasting, peaceful relationship between ourselves and others.

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