Every well respected yoga teacher and dedicated yoga practitioner has studied the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Patanjali presents us with the often quoted yamas and niyamas and are supposed to be a guideline for daily living, and the foundation for personal and spiritual growth. Without being firmly rooted in them our practice can steer us far away from a truthful and pure path.
The yamas are usually being translated as ethical rules or moral imperatives: ahimsa (non violence), satya (no lying, truthfulness) asteya (no stealing), brahmacharya (no sexual misconduct), aparigraha (non possessiveness), and brahmacharya. You will see that they have a lot in common with the Ten Commandments as mentioned in the Bible. Personally I have difficulties with the translation of yama into ‘rule’ or ‘morals’ as a rule is something which is being imposed upon us, whereas the yamas should come naturally from inside, a sort of natural conviction that these are values you want to live by.
Obviously if you are grown up in a certain society or culture it is difficult to accept certain yamas in your life. This is why it is important to study. Study at different levels, using different tools. One of them is studying spiritual text and their interpretations. Under the guidance of a teacher, or studying with a group of people. And eventually use that information, that input, to study yourself and make changes. I cannot stress it enough that it is so useful to discuss also your findings, insights or questions, with either a teacher or a friend. A friend on the same path, a friend with a totally different background, and even a person that you know who opposes your life philosophy. It is through these kind of conversations, exchanges, maybe even discussions that it becomes more clear what you have understood.
That is what I love about traveling backand forth between India and Netherlands. In India I live in small communities and am surrounded by very many like minded people whom, generally live according to same life philosophy. Back in Europe, the majority of the people live according to a totally different ‘bucket list’. I continually keep observing my self and I am amazed by the influence of the environment on how I live and according to what principles. This is for me another reason to seek, wherever I am, friends with whom I can share my live philosophy but at the same time remain open for other perspectives. After all, we do not want to be stuck in our yamas, we want to float in them rather 🙂