I have been studying to become a yoga instructor and I am reading right now about the yoga restraints. I wanted to share a little of what I am learning with you all. Ahimsa/Non-violence, Satya/Truthfulness, Brahmachary/Moderation, Asteya/Non-stealing, and Aparigraha/ Non-greed refer to the five yoga restraints. When I first think of the word restraint I think of things that hold me back whether physically like a weight or ropes, or emotionally, like walls I built between my self and others, or negative thoughts. This study guide defines restraints quite similarly as holding back negative qualities. There are five restraints, which serve as the foundation of yoga practice, and they are:
Non-Violence: for me non-violence has many meanings, because violence has many meanings. To be violent is more than just hitting someone or physically hurting them; what about the person who is violent or aggressive towards animals, or even inanimate objects. Other than the one causing the harm, there are those who may witness the act and do not stop it. There is also emotional violence where someone can build up your confidence just so they can tear it down, or forget the first part and constantly harass you and talk down to you. After reading the Study guide and what it had, to say I realized I had forgotten one thing, and in my opinion it is one of the most important and lethal aspects in the world today, and that is the negative self-talk of yourself putting yourself down. It’s ok to think you can do better and push yourself through seemingly impossible things that is how you grow but, what is not ok is constantly bashing yourself and telling yourself you are not good enough as you compare yourself to others. As a child I remember being told something about how we are all smart in our own ways but that we should not compare ourselves to others and their abilities, for if a fish compared itself to the trees ability to stand tall on land the fish would be seen as dumb aside from seeing how it can swim through endless seas.
Truthfulness: to me this is one of the most important qualities you can have. It takes years to gain trust, one lie to break it, and a lifetime to regain it. When people cannot trust you then they are less likely to be honest with you. I feel as though the truth is always best. Even with the argument of telling a white lie to spare someone's feelings. Telling a friend they look bad in a dress may make them feel bad in the moment, but at least they won’t wear an outfit that does not suit them. I will save them the future embarrassment of people talking badly about them, or making fun of them. The Study guide says that silence is a nonviolent way of accomplishing the truth in a nonviolent way. This is something that has been said to me many times in the way of “if you have nothing nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” The ability to be truthful shows strength, courage, and restraint.
Moderation: before I read this in the study guide I thought of this as a different word for gluttony which refers to just food and overeating, however after reading the text I see that Brahmachary refers to more than just food moderation but moderation in all of life pleasures such as sexual relations, mind altering substances and eating. I think this is important not only for the obvious reasons of how they can affect you negatively, but also in the sense that they are supposed to be pleasurable and if over used or overdone, they lose their pleasure. Too much of anything is never a good thing. It can take over your life in a negative way even if it is a positive thing. Exercise is a good thing but too much can lead your body to become more fragile such as being more susceptible to tears or sprains of the body. You could become obsessed with the size and unknowing of hurting your body with steroid injections for personal self-gain. Eating keeps you alive and can taste good, but eating too much leads to obesity. Having a significant other is important to many and helps bring new life to our earth, however having many sexual partners can lead to diseases and at times unwanted children and hindered emotional stubality of what a significant other is. Although too much of anything is a bad thing moderation can be the key to fixing over moderating an obsession.
Non-stealing: stealing is the universal crime. What I mean by this is that when you lie, you are stealing the truth from another. When you cheat, you are stealing the answer from another. In my opinion, stealing is the highest crime you can commit, since essentially anything you do wrong can be tied back to stealing in one way or another. One thing the Study Guide mentions that I had not thought of was the act of coveting something of another. This reminds me of envy. Jealousy is wanting something that is not yours, and that is one thing, but envy is not only wanting what someone else has, but not wanting them to have it. Another thing that the Study Guide mentions is the lack of appreciation of gifts, which I feel could also fall into greed as well, since I think of gratitude and appreciation as almost the same thing in many cases. This is also a good thing to remember though weather relating to greed or stealing, it is important to be thankful for things we are given whether it be from a person or our planet. There is always someone out there less fortunate than you.
Non-greed to me sounds pretty self-explanatory. It means not to be greedy. You can never have everything, and wanting and having everything is an unattainable goal that will leave you eternally unhappy. After reading the Study guide, I learned that in yoga this concept is taken a step further in the sense that not only is it a bad idea to want everything but it is ok to live a simple life. Society tells us that you need a job, house with a maculate yard, the perfect family, a dog and a white picket fence. You are told that your bank account should be full and your retirement fund should be large. Your house should be stoked with fun things for you and your kids and they should get everything they want. That is the dream and until you attain these things that your life is not complete. I disagree. I have never owned a home or had a picket fence. My bank account fluctuates and sometimes goes way below what is safe. My daughters’ biological father is out of the picture, and she is far from spoiled. However, with all of these things unattained, I am happy. I really don’t want a white picket fence, but I like the idea of having a dog (actually I would like to have many if I could ever have enough room for them all to be comfortable). I like the time I get to spend with my daughter though, and the fact that she is not spoiled and doesn’t act rotten. On the outside my life is not perfect and many people may look down on me for things I do or don’t have, but I am ok with that today because I am happy and content. I have a roof over my head, food on the table every night, and my sanity within me every day.