Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi are the eight limbs of Yoga. The Yoga of these eight limbs is called Ashtanga Yoga which is one of the various versions of Raja Yoga discipline.
Meaning and Definition
Yama is the set of activities which one should abstain from. Trishikhibrahmana Upanishad defines Yama as “dehendriyeṣu vairāgyaṃ Yama“ which means the detachment of the body from the sense organs is Yama.
Tejo Bindu Upanishad defines Yama as “the mastery over senses and continuous focusing upon the knowledge that Sarvam Brahma – All is Brahman.”
The same definition is found in Aparokshanubuti of Sri Adi Sankara.
It is the practice of given virtues for the attainment of the yogic goal. It is the code of self-discipline. It is the adherence of the abstinence for the self-regulation.
Kinds of Yama
Yoga Sutra of Patanjali
Patanjali who was the pioneer of Raja Yoga gives five kinds of Yama. They are called Pancha Yamas. Sutra 2.30 says “ahimsa Satya asteya brahmacharya aparigraha yama”. It means Non-injury, Truthfulness, Non-stealing, Celibacy, and Non-receiving are called Yama. Sutra 2.31 says “They become supreme vow when they are not limited by place, time, and situation”.
- Ahimsa or Non-injury. If Non-injury is established, all enmities cease in his presence. The same message is conveyed in Thirukkural verse 260 which says “He who is not engaged in killing and eating meat, is respectfully saluted by all beings.”
- Sathya or Truthfulness. If truthfulness is established, he attains the power of getting the fruits of action without action for him and others.
- Asteya or Non-stealing. By non-stealing, he gets all wealth.
- Brahmacharya or Continence. By celibacy, he attains all powers.
- Aparigraha or Non-Possession. By non-receiving of gifts, he gets the memory of past life.
- Ahimsa or Non-killing
- Sathya or Truthfulness
- Asteya or Non-stealing
- Brahmacharya or Celibacy
- Daya or Compassion
- Arjava or Morality
- Shama or Forbearance
- Drutir or Will power
- Mithahara or Temperance in food
- Sousa or Cleanliness
- Sitosna-Ahara-Nidra-Vijaya or Mastery over cold, heat, food, and sleep
- Sarvata Shanthi or Permanent quietude
- Nis-Salatvam or undisturbed mind
- Vishayendirya Nigraha or Control of senses over the inputs (objects)
Shama or Forbearance is accepting exalting commendations and nasty condemnations alike.
Drutir or Will power is steadiness of the mind even in extreme cases of losing wealth or closed ones and gaining new wealth or closed ones.