First Limb of Yoga: Ahimsa and Satyam

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First Limb of Yoga: Ahimsa and Satyam

yoga trainingBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

How important is the study of yama and niyama in Yoga teacher training?  One might ask, how a student studied Yogic methodology for so long without reading about the Eight Limbs of Yoga?  However, there are many fitness-based forms of Yoga training that do not cover Yogic philosophy in classes.  Therefore, let’s start by looking at ahimsa and satyam.

Ahimsa: The practice of non-violence cannot be achieved just by thinking about it. It starts from within and requires us to be aware of what we say, think, write, and our actions. If you can diffuse an argument between two people, and take no action, your non-action could cause violence. We have to be prepared, each day, from within our being, by meditating and praying. We must also be prepared for the person who is having an “off day.” This could be a driver exhibiting road rage, a rude co-worker, a person who has poor manners, or something similar.  Inciting violence also violates ahimsa. Therefore, withhold your negative comments about others, even if you feel they are justified. Keep your integrity intact, and you will establish a reputation of good character.

Satyam or Satya: This is the second Yama of truthfulness. A simple definition would be, “Thou shall not lie or give false testimony.” This same rule is found in the Old Testament of the Bible, in Jewish Scriptures, and in the Holy Quran.  In ancient times, and today, bearing false witness against a neighbor could cause serious injustice, which could possibly result in capital punishment to an innocent person. This act would magnify the actual crime.  If you look at the root words in Sanskrit, Sat means “true or real,” while Ya means “ness.” Another way to look at Satyam is to be real. For some people, this is easy; but for some other people, their ego does not allow them to be real.  Look within and avoid deceiving others, but do not intentionally hurt others with the truth. Always be compassionate – especially, if the truth is going to hurt someone. Therefore, the truth is like a sword with two blades. Always be careful and use your best judgment.

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