Christianity and Yoga:  A Series of Studies – Yamas Part I

In the Yoga Sutras Patañjali (see the front page for links) identifies eight limbs of Yoga.  The first limb is Yama (outward observance or restraint).  Patañjali goes on to identify five Yamas:  Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truth), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (sexual continence), Aparigraha (non-greed).  He further says that these five restraints together form a great vow and are not limited by rank, place, time nor circumstance.  It would be fairly simple to just point out that these five Yamas are covered within the Ten Commandments:  Thou shalt not kill.  Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.  Thou shalt not steal.  Thou shalt not commit adultery.  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.  However, I want to review a few more passages:

Ahimsa – Non-violence

Yoga Sutra 2.35 When one is confirmed in non-violence, hostility ceases in his presence.

5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.

Psalms 11:5

14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

Luke 3:14

Clearly, violence of any kind has no place in the life of a disciple of Christ.

Satya – Truth

Yoga Sutra 2.36 When one is firmly established in speaking truth, the fruits of action become subservient to him.

4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

Dueteronomy 32:4

6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Psalms 51:6

25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Ephesians 4:25, 29

God is a God of truth and wants truth to be in the very core of our being.  Paul tells us to put away lying and to even go so far as to only speak things which will edify or improve the lives of those who hear what we say.

Asteya – Non-stealing

Yoga Sutra 2.37 All jewels approach him who is confirmed in honesty.

3 Then said he unto me, This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth: for every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it.

Zechariah 5:3

28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Ephesians 4:28

Not only are we warned against stealing but we are instructed to labor so we have enough to give to those in need.

Tonight’s review is somewhat of a whirlwind that just briefly touched on three of the Yamas but, then again, these three tenets are so time honored that I didn’t really even need to do any work to show how practicing these three Yamas not only is compatible with a Christian life but they are actually requirements of a Christian lifestyle.  Tomorrow I will review Brahmacharya and Aparigraha, two traits that are sorely lacking on all sides.