I’ve just finished teaching my class series, which centered on the first facet of the eight-faceted yoga path, the Yamas. The Yamas are reflections of our true nature as humans. Knowing that these ancient teachings are as relevant in my class today as they were when first taught 5,000 years ago emphasizes this practice’s inherent wisdom and power.
The Yamas show us that the essence of our humanity binds us together, inextricably. All of us. All 7 billion of us. The Yamas sum up the truths of who we are with five qualities:
यम Ahimsa – compassion and reverence for all
यम Asteya – generosity
यम Satya – truth and integrity
यम Brahmacharya – the desire to live in balance
यम Aparigraha – acknowledgement of abundance
In her book The Secret Power of Yoga, Nischala Joy Devi wrote,
When we revere all as ourselves through ahimsa,
the other four qualities … are naturally present.
Remembering this message – that in our truest form we’re all the same and share these qualities – leaves me filled with peace and hope. When other messages impinge, I know I’m simply identifying with mind muck…mine or someone else’s, which are neither the real me nor the real them. When we see the ‘shadow’ side of humanity, it’s evident that we’re out of alignment with our true nature. This gives me hope, because recognizing it means I have a choice to align with the truth: our essence, our common humanity.
If we all extend toward and look for compassion, pause long enough to listen to our truth, generously give someone (and ourselves) the benefit of the doubt when they, or we, are mired in mind muck that sometimes trips us up, step back when we need to rest, and express gratitude for all the blessings in our lives, we’ll align and be elevated by this truth.
This seems simple: focus on our truest essence and common qualities as humans, and life will flow effortlessly. I suspect that the ancient yogis knew that what appears simple, isn’t; that forgetfulness is also embedded into our humanness. Hence, the value of continued practice of yoga, the choice to remember.