3. ASTEYA = MIDDLE FINGER
This one has very obvious, self explanatory morals but there are many subtle ways to appropriate what does not belong to us also. Speaking on another’s behalf steals their opportunity to express themselves. Being knowingly late presumes that our time is more valuable than others and therefore steals their time. As a teacher, teaching only what we know and that which we have personally experienced and understood, is practising Asteya. If a teacher teaches only what they have read, heard or seen with no true understanding then they are stealing this information and misguiding students to believe it is their own.
Desire or want is the root cause for all stealing. Freeing ourselves from the desire to have something that we have not earned is Asteya. Practicing on our mats with this in mind guides us to let go of any ideas of inadequacy and judgement, as holding on to these robs us of our opportunity to shine. Gandhi emphasized that ‘wealth without work’ is wrong. To highlight this idea with students, I ask them to practice without desire or nto not rush, they must,’be disciplined and do the work’ on the mat before expecting to be rewarded by the juicy fruits of the practice.
4. BRAMACHARYA = RING FINGER
The control of the senses, the right use of energy
The essence of bramacharya is honouring yourself and others in intimate relationships. In yoga the process is one of channelling and managing energy. In day to day life often this prana (life force energy) cultivated goes to waste once we step away from our mats. The thought of sex and the force of the sex drive takes with it a lot of this energy, to practice bramacharys is to harness this energy and power of our senses and direct it instead to greater personal understanding.
At first this yama confused me, labeled as celibacy in many texts, I could not see how this could become a relevant part of my world on or off the mat. When I did my initial training in Singapore my teacher said to me, "Rhyanna, it’s about turning your sexual energy into a creative force", at the time I was still unsure really how this would be a ‘real life’ part of my yoga.
Years on and I have been able to explore this energy use and have learnt how it becomes part of my relationships with others.
I have begun to approach my own sexuality and its intersection with others with a spirit of compassion, non- violence and honesty. Bringing bramacharya into a loving relationship has allowed me to experience a heightened connection with another person. The lesson to be learnt here is to experience the exchange of two sexual energies as a sacred experience. Be completely engaged, enjoy, share and most importantly respect your partner. If we completely engage and find equality in our intimate relations the prana is shared equally and a glimpse of infinite bliss can be found.
5. APARIGRAHA = PINKY
Non covetousness, non hoarding & non attachment
Aparigraha asks us to let go of greed. It’s about living with generosity of spirit and giving without expecting in return. In the yoga studio I discovered that the more patience I had with myself and my students, the more I gave openly with no attachment to results and student retention, and the more I encouraged a focus on the integrity of the breathe and ease rather than the final pose, the more trust I had in the world. My whole way of thinking, practicing, teaching and living changed. Using what I have to its maximum potential without any desire for more. Ultimately both on and off the mat aparigraha has shown me to loose fear. I live my life letting go of attachments to people, ideas, houses, clothes, shoes, jobs and students. In the end, I trust in myself and the world, smiling at a sense of inner knowing, even when the ‘shit hits the fan’.
For a long time yoga to me was just an exercise and then a simple form of meditation, however once I began to practice with a little more awareness I realised the potential this ‘creature’ had to change my life. Each student is my teacher bringing new light to my practice and my teaching. To share my understanding and watch people develop, understand and grow is where the joy lies.
Take this chance to let yoga into your life, and perhaps you too can utilise the real life value of its lessons.