With the hectic times of the early year, it can be easy to get distracted from our yoga practice.
But we can also use the momentum of the new year to commit to new goals and recommit to practices that may have fallen by the wayside during the holidays or the first weeks of the new year. Recommitting can be easy because yoga is always there for you.
Considering the yamas of yoga can help in recommitting to (or your decision to begin) a yoga practice. No matter where you are with yoga, the yamas are concepts worth understanding. Yamas are often described as a series of “right living” rules of ethics. Patanjali listed “the five yamas” in the Yoga Sutras, and we share them here.
Along with a general description of each yama, we’ve included some examples of resolutions members of our team will be incorporating into their lives for the new year. Adopt some or all of these, find your own—or choose to not set any resolutions at all if you prefer.
Ahimsa is the first yama listed for a reason: Ahimsa means non-harming, and it must come above all other qualities. Non-harming can be defined in many ways, but most of all it encourages nonviolence toward all living things.
Resolutions for Ahimsa: Buy fair trade, vegan items, ethically made clothing, etc. Be kind to yourself with affirmations, and kind to others with your thoughts. Donate your time by volunteering.
This means finding your own sense of truth and speaking it. It means choosing truthfulness in thought, speech, and actions. Satya also points to being cautious to ensure the truth is not distorted, although this can be a little more subtle.
Resolutions for Satya: Tell the truth and speak up more often. Stop offering “little white lies” to yourself or others. Make sure your actions match your thoughts and words. Make a habit of having an honest check-in with yourself.
Asteya is non-stealing. But it means so much more than not physically stealing from others (though of course, please don’t steal from stores this year either). It also means to not waste time—either your own or others’ time. Do not steal ideas or credit.
Resolutions for Asteya: Show up on time to appointments and plans with friends, family, and colleagues. Find opportunities to be more present.
Brahmacharya is often misunderstood. Usually considered to translate into “cultivating celibacy,” it is is more generally expressed as “no excess,” or conserving energy. It’s easy to understand the importance of conserving energy, especially around this time of year. In Toronto, we see shorter daylight hours, and spend more time inside due to the cold and often bad winter weather. Yet many of us still demand a lot of ourselves. Last month, we may have gone to a lot more parties and celebrated in excess. It’s time to bring it back.
Resolutions for Brahmacharya: Spend money wisely. Use energy efficiently, workout, and take care of yourself (avoid spending all your energy on things that do not nourish you).
This yama translates as non-attachment: no possessiveness, no greed. Aparigraha speaks to letting go of things to which we are attached, including emotions, habits, as well as physical items.
Resolutions for Aparigraha: Donate clothes you do not wear anymore. Reduce the number of possessions you keep. Look honestly at the things to which you are attached, forgive or thank them, and then let go of them if possible.
Wishing you well this new calendar year, and if you would like to deepen your yoga practice this year, check out our Toronto Yoga Conference classes taught by world-class yoga faculty members. There’s plenty of deep learning and growth that can happen through all the classes. And the best part? We are now offering our lowest conference prices until the end of January. Browse our conference guide and discover ways to recommit to or incorporate yoga.