What are the Yamas

Published on 8 June 2020 at 08:01

As most of you might know, or might have found out, Ashtanga Yoga means 8 Limbed Yoga. Ashta meaning 8 and anga means limbs. 

Yoga essentially means to unite. This is quite broad already, as we can unite many things, but essentially it means uniting our individual soul/self (Atma) with the Universal Soul/Supreme Self (Paramatma). However, there are many many meanings, interpretations and perspectives. Yoga is so broad and can mean so many things, because it does. It is complex yet very simple, and all the meanings that you might have found are valid. 


Also, we practice Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. This is a yoga method developed by Sri K Patabhi Jois who was obviously inspired by his teacher Krishnamacharya (who was also the teacher of well known yoga teachers such as Indra Devi;B. K. S. Iyengar; T. K. V. Desikachar; Srivatsa Ramaswami; and A. G. Mohan of whom most also developed very established methods of Yoga in our times.)

Now there is also the sage Patanjali, who describes an Ashtanga Yoga in his treatise, the Yoga Sutras.
Pathabi Jois & Patanjali have based their 'yogas' on the same terms, but is important to realize that Patanjali wrote the sutras long before Patabhi Jois even existed and he goes far beyond describing a method of (asana) practice. It is said that Patanjali actually describes what is called Raja Yoga in the Sutras, which is a yoga that is practiced on a mental/energetic level and not physically (the only asana is the seated posture). 

Maybe Patabhi Jois's Ashtanga Yoga is the perfect preparation, the introduction version of Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga? 



To discuss this we actually need to delve deeper into both (in theory for now).


In theory the 8-fold path comprises of the following 8 limbs:

  1. Yama
  2. Niyama
  3. Asana
  4. Pranayama
  5. Pratyahara
  6. Dharana
  7. Dhyana
  8. Samadhi


Here is this week's homework:

What is the meaning of Yama?

What are the Yamas? How many are there?

What do the Yama's mean to you?

Do you integrate them into your yoga practice? Or maybe your life? If so, how? 


Enjoy this week's exploration!

Leave your findings in the comments below. Or we can discuss during Chat & Chai. 

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