YAMA – Self Restraint.

I have been doing my reading for the yoga teacher training this week and that has involved really reading around and understanding the eight limbs of yoga. I wanted to talk about the first limb today – yama or self restraint.

I did a blog post on will power a week ago but these ‘self restraints’ are slightly different to will power so I thought I should explain them.

Yama is basically a set of disciplines that you should live your life by (or try at least) in order to be a kind, honest, integral human being. This will create happiness for yourself and also those around you. It is also the first limb of the eight limbs of yoga and thus is the first step towards Samadhi, or enlightenment.

These are not harsh disciplines such as getting up at 4am to meditate or having to practice yoga for 5 hours a day or you can only eat fruit. In fact these disciplines are already engrained in all of us and if we start to live by them we will become more in touch with are authentic selves. I have found them like a set of moral rules to live by which will enhance your life. You can apply them in every situation and I believe they will brighten the world if we all align ourselves with them.

So what are these Yamas? 

  1. Ahimsa = Non-violence 

This is a fairly obvious rule to live by and I am sure most of us try to live by this every day. However it does include non-violence towards yourself. This is important because in our society we are often so harsh to ourselves and put ourselves down the whole time. We would never treat others the way we treat ourself. This is a very sad way to live and needs to be addressed. If you want to flourish in life then you have to stop being mean to yourself and start to be honest and KIND.

Ahimsa is all about being compassionate, kind and understanding to others and yourself. This also includes forgiving others for if they have wronged you. Do not hold a grudge. Be kind and move on, then you will be a lot happier.

2. Satya = Truthfulness

Satya, truthfulness, means being honest to yourself and others. It is done by aligning your words and actions, not exaggerating a story, and being honest the whole time. It takes discipline to be COMPLETELY honest. But the more you do it the easier it will become. Also do not forget the first yama, non-violence. We can very often be brutally honest to others and hide behind the fact we are telling the truth but this might cause someone else pain. Common sense is needed to practice all the yamas together, but this is what we must do. We cannot just chose one.

3. Asteya = Honesty 

Asteya is slightly different to satya. Asteya is about non-stealing. This includes other peoples ideas as well as material objects. Try and be fully honest, speaking from your own truth and not someone else’s. This is the way to happiness and living a true authentic life.

It can be hard and sometimes I don’t know what thoughts are mine or someone else’s. But from experience the way to tell is to quieten the mind and try to listen to your heart. That is where your truth lies and you do not need to look further.

Asteya also encompasses being completely open to others. This is done by living from our authentic selves and not being ashamed by who we are. We need to be honest about our true selves to those around us at all times.

4. Brahmacharya = Moderation

I think moderation is something we all need more in our lives, I definitely do! I am constantly falling out of balance and then have to readjust myself again, but I think this is life. Moderation is practiced as a discipline to reduce the desires of greed. When we have less greed we have less suffering in our lives because we are wasting less energy on wanting. Thus we are all happier.

5. Aparigraha = Non-Possessiveness 

This is not hoarding. It is a strange and maybe difficult discipline to have in our society. In India, if they were practicing the eight limbs they would see having a savings account as ‘hoarding’ money. Maybe this is true. But to be sensible it is good to have savings.

I have translated aparigraha as not possessing things that you do not need in life or do not make you happy. For example you do not need many sets of clothes. You may need savings but you don’t need millions and millions. Remember that if you are hoarding something you are in a way stealing it from the poor. Try to be generous and give to others that which you don’t really need. That will maybe you happier and those too.


I have stuck a reminder of these Yamas on my mirror. I am trying to keep to them everyday, every moment. In order to grow as a person and better my life and those around me.

I hope you feel inspired to try and bring the yamas into your life. Maybe you already are living daily by them. Whatever you do though bring awareness and love.

Together we can better this planet.





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  1. Ok, if you ever come over to this side of the Pond, we must catch up! This week’s assignment is to journal on Aparigraha in our lives and how we have observed it. I always love reading other people’s input, too. Keep writing, keep being, keep practicing. Namaste.

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