Yama (Response or Behaviour control) – Overview

School of Yoga explains Yama (response or behaviour harmony)

  • Generally, we get stimulus from more than one source. Hence, it is rare that we are able to give any stimulus complete attention.
  • The quality of our attention depends on our state of awareness, this is called vijnana (our awareness in the situation).
  • Additionally, the drop in awareness creates an error in estimation, expectation and feedback in both, the individual sending the message and us.
  • This drop in communication can generate stress, especially if the situation calls for a high degree of adjustment or difficult to cope with. Needless to say, stress increases if the situation results in confrontation or and insensitive response.
  • The reason for stress is that the loss of awareness creates a fear of the unknown, which affects our self worth or Asmita and consequently the fear of change.

Obviously, we cannot control most aspects of the situation we find ourselves in or the stimulus which comes to us. However, we can control our response.

Control of our reaction or response allows both, us and the person receiving our response to work without loss of self-worth (asmita). Consequently, this increases awareness of the self (jnana), reduces fear and resistance to change.

As a result, the transaction moves towards a substantial relationship based on sustainable solutions and increased awareness.

Raja Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga or 8 limbed Yoga recommends Yama or behaviour control as the first step towards situational awareness.

Patanjali Yoga Sutra on Yama (Chapter 2 – verse 27 to 30)

  • This is the seven stage process to the edge of the subject of awareness. (The seven stages are: All knowledge is resident in the Self, Cessation of grief, Samadhi, Adjusting on return from Samadhi, Realisation that the material world has no value, erasing of memory, eternal union with the infinite.)
  • Practice of Yoga destroys spiritual impurity and allows one to gain knowledge of the Self and ability to discriminate.
  • Yama- Niyama- Asana- Pranayama- Pratyahara- Dhyana- Dharana- Samadhi form the eight limbs.
  • Ahimsa (non violence), satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (sexual continence), aparigraha (eschewing possession) constitute yama.

Hatha Yoga on Yama (Chapter 1- verse 15 to 17)

  • 6 virtues impede development in Hatha Yoga – they are over-eating, excessive exertion, excessive talking, excessive adherence to rules, company of humans and unsteadiness.
  • 6 habits bring success – zeal, boldness of drive and willingness to start, patience, perseverance, ability to discriminate, clarity of purpose and aloofness.
  • The 10 rules of Yama are – Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (Truth), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharyam (sexual continence), Kshama (forgiveness), Drithi (self-control), Daya (compassion), Arjavam (frankness or being straightforward), Mitahara (controlled diet), Shoucham (cleanliness).

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School of Yoga explains – Elements of Yama

Yama enables us to interact with our environment such that the transaction is filled with a sense of peace and harmony (shanti). Consequently, we are able to enjoy a stable and balanced relationship with our environment.

Yama has different meanings, “rein, curb, or bridle, discipline or restraints”. In the present context, it means “self-control or forbearance” when dealing with the environment. 

Six key elements in yama which cover most aspects of behaviour with the external environment are ahimsa (Non-violence), satya (Truth or integrity), asteya (Non-stealing)aparigraha (Renouncing possessions), brahmacharyam (sexual continence), and mitahara (diet control).

When one implements these elements, there is an increased sense of discrimination (vivekam) and reduced emotional turmoil (vairagyam) which results in increased situational awareness (pragnya).

Points to Ponder on Yama:

Internal Tags: Dharma (conditioning)Stress and Situational AwarenessStress and pranaAwareness measures, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika, Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga.

External Tags: Consciousness

  • Do we control events?
  • What is the best way to react? What is the end we should aim for?
  • Is it possible to achieve a win-win solution every time?
  • If we cannot achieve a win-win solution, then how should we manage the situation?
  • Can we react, ensure success, yet ensure peace in any reaction?
  • Is transparency in a reaction important and possible?
  • Is it important for us to respect the other person’s svadharma in a situation?
  • How do relationships get affected? Why do they get disturbed?
  • What does it take to restore a disturbed relationship?
  • Can a relationship be one-sided? How do you manage an important one-sided relationship?
  • How important is patience in a relationship?
  • What is the importance of communication in maintaining relationships?
  • How do you use communication to diffuse tension?

Yama – Behaviour control

Editor at School Of Yoga
School Of Yoga is a single point resource for all aspects of Classical Yoga practise. We try to achieve this by placing Yoga's traditional methodology in front of the reader and eliciting his or her experience. We value everyone's Yoga experience and would like you to share and enrich other practitioners so that everyone benefits.
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