The Five Sacred Yama's of Yoga

blog Dec 25, 2019

The Five Yama’s of Yoga

“Your own self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world.”

Ramana Maharshi

It has been my experience and observation that most of the world does not necessarily suffer from an Attention Deficit Disorder as much as an Intention Deficit Disorder. The intention for most people is simply to get by, to have just what they need, or worse is to simply survive. This kind of daily intention for one’s life emits a very weak frequency from the human body that attracts people, places, situations, and foods that maintain a low vibrational pulse for life. When we place our attention on our intention all of a sudden we begin to express a strong vibrational pulse, we begin to feel better, we light up more, and the people around us begin to light us as well. This is not by mistake or some kind of mystical phenomena, it is based entirely on the power of our intention.

I have found what is called the Five Yama’s derived from the Eight Limb Philosophy of classical yoga to be highly beneficial to clarifying, setting, and anchoring my core intention for life. The art of yoga is largely about maintaining a clear and sober presence with our moment-by-moment experiences. Whether one chooses to do physical yoga or not (and for physical longevity, I highly suggest you do), the philosophy detailed below can be extremely useful for maintaining a direct connection to the vibrational pulse of your own life.

“Yoga is a method for restraining the natural turbulence of thoughts, which otherwise impartially prevent all men, of all lands, from glimpsing their true nature of spirit. Yoga cannot know a barrier of East and West any more than does the healing and equitable light of the sun.”

Paramahansa Yohananda

There are eight limbs in yoga which act as guiding principles to the yoga practice. The first limb is the Yama’s which serve as a form of moral compass or more disciplines one uses to guide their life. This is a powerful set of virtues to help the practitioner stay in harmony with their physical and mental practice. This is an inseparable component of alchemy as we seek greater alignment between our inner world and outer world. The poverty mindset causes us to steer so far off our intended course that we begin to believe we are separate from the source that created and animated all life. Living by the virtue of prosperity seems like the easiest, most graceful, and simplest concept, however, without a proper moral blueprint with which to align ourselves, we can become distracted and sideswiped by the shiny objects of the world around us. This is not about perfectionism or absolutism, it is about practice, devotion to progress, and connecting with our Creators intent for our lives.


The basic understanding of the ahimsa philosophy is to do no harm to sentient beings as a way of existing in the world. This is only one level of the Sanskrit translation, however, it provides the main context for it’s core meaning. Another level to it is do no harm to others and to do no harm to ourselves. This includes not harming others or ourselves through physical actions as well as violent or disharmonious thoughts and toxic emotions. These words of the Buddha encapsulate the essence of the ahimsa; “The thought manifests as the word; The word manifests as the deed; The deed develops into habit; And habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care, and let it spring from love born out of concern for all beings…As the shadow follows the body, as we think, so we become.”


The basic understanding of the Satya in the Sanskrit translation is “truth.” This refers to the alignment or congruency within our thoughts, words, and deeds. This may be one of the most challenging virtues to uphold as cultural conditioning has created a type of human conditioning to think one way, speak another, and act in a completely different way. This virtue helps us remember to anchor in our sincere intentions for the life we truly aspire to live while washing away the false identities or false motivations for the life we were taught to live. The highest explanation of this tenet is restraint and eventually complete dissolve from falsehood which includes false foods, false careers, false relationships, false intentions, and a false lifestyle.


The basic understanding of Asteya is non-stealing, or restraining from taking from others what is not rightfully ours. This includes material possessions and the non-material such as intellectual property, such as blatant plagiarism. This tenet or virtue seems somewhat obvious to most of us, but the nuance can be tempting to overlook as it encourages one to refrain from the thought or general consideration of stealing, for any reason. This virtue in particular, in my interpretation, requires the proper context as life is never black and white, however, the basic principle is a necessary focus for living a virtuous life. In a more daily example, this virtue can also mean not to steal or waste another’s time by keeping up false identities, perceptions, or agendas as detailed in the Satya. This also relates to not stealing or wasting your own energy with improper foods, thoughts, relationships, and wasting one’s own time. This is a very deep principle once one begins to expand upon all of it’s implications and makes it a practice in their daily life.

“If you are established in non-stealing, all wealth will come to you.”

Swami Sivananda


Brahmacharya was originally referred too as celibacy, or even complete chastity before marriage. This is an outdated interpretation of the virtue which is more or less based on cultural rules and not entirely representative of the essence of this teaching. It is indeed one of the single most important principles to consider, as it impacts all areas of our lives including our sexual health, our primordial energy (Jing/Ojas), our brain power, our creativity, sleep cycles, while simultaneously impacting the subtle perceptions we have about ourselves. Brahmacharya teaches to conserve our sexual energy and overall creative energy which is thought to be better spent on connecting with our creator, higher power. In Hinduism, the word brahmacharya translates into “behaviors which leads to brahman.” Another way of thinking of this virtue is cultivating the right use of our energy which means abstaining from temporary gratification or pleasure that always leaves one empty, depleted, or craving more in order to feel satisfied. This is not so much about restraining oneself from pleasure as it is about developing a deeper connecting with one’s soul and finding peace with ourselves.

In the classic book Think and Grow Rich, Author Napolian Hill devoted an entire chapter to Sexual Transmutation. This concept teaches us to redirect our sexual energies into more creative and productive channels of expression where our ‘seeds’ can be used to birth our dreams instead of being wasted on momentary desires. He shared valuable insights on the power of our sexual energy for manifesting our dreams and the connection between the most successful entrepreneurs in the world who practice this virtue. This principle is discussed throughout all spiritual and religious texts in one way or another. This topic can go much further into the realms of modern day pornography and the extremely concerning issues arising, such as porn-induced erectile disfunction (PIED) and a general dissatisfaction for real-life sexual encounters in comparison to the fabricated virtual reality of online pornography. This virtue is very important for every alchemist to consider and to learn how to transmute their reproductive / procreative drive for producing magic and miracles in the world.     


The basic understanding of Aparigraha is non-possessiveness, non-greediness, or non-hoarding. This virtue can be viewed as a way of letting go of who we believe ourself to be and opening up to the revelations of who we truly are in order to exist beyond our self-created limitations of identity. This is a fundamental principle in the understanding of alchemy because nothing ever stays exactly the same, everything is subject to change, and the more we insist upon things remaining static the more tension, frustration, and pain we experience. The principle of non-hoarding I find uniquely fascinating as it relates to the endless amount of coping mechanisms that we have access too in order to medicate ourselves with in order to avoid ourselves. This is the core problem in our world, and this can only be remedied through abstaining from that which we do not really need, or in many cases, simply desire. This issue goes deeper into the core identity we have created for ourselves and the associated habit patterns that hold said identity in place.


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