A yama (Sanskrit) यम, literally "death", is a rule or code of conduct for living which will help bring a compassionate death to the ego or "the lower self". The yamas comprise the "shall-not" in our dealings with the external world as the [Niyamas] comprise the "shall-do" in our dealings with the inner world.

Ten Yamas are codified as "the restraints" in numerous scriptures including the Shandilya and Varaha Upanishads, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Gorakshanatha, and the Tirumantiram of Tirumular. Patañjali lists only five yamas in his Yoga Sutras.

Ten Traditional yamas

The ten traditional yamas are:

  1. Ahimsa (अहिंसा): Nonviolence. Abstinence from injury, harmlessness, the not causing of pain to any living creature in thought, word, or deed at any time. This is the "main" yama. The other nine are there in support of its accomplishment.
  2. Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, word and thought in conformity with the facts.
  3. Achaurya (अस्तेय): non-stealing, non-coveting, non-entering into debt.
  4. Brahmacharya ब्(रह्मचर्य): divine conduct, continence, celibate when single, faithful when married.
  5. Kshama: patience, releasing time, functioning in the now.
  6. Dhriti: steadfastness, overcoming non-perseverance, fear, and indecision; seeing each task through to completion.
  7. Daya: compassion; conquering callous, cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings.
  8. Arjava: honesty, straightforwardness, renouncing deception and wrongdoing.
  9. Mitahara: moderate appetite, neither eating too much nor too little; nor consuming meat, fish, shellfish, fowl or eggs.
  10. Shaucha (शौच): purity, avoidance of impurity in body, mind and speech. (Note: Patanjali's Yoga Sutras list Shaucha as the first of the Niyamas.)

Five yamas of Patañjali

In the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali, the yamas are the first limb of the eight limbs of Raja Yoga.
They are found in the Sadhana Pada Verse 30 as:

  1. Ahimsa (अहिंसा)
  2. Satya (सत्य)
  3. Asteya (अस्तेय)
  4. Brahmacharya (शौच)
  5. Aparigraha (अपरिग्रह): absence of avariciousness, non-appropriation of things not one's own.

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