The First Limb - The Yamas
The "yamas" or "restraints" are ways of living ethically. They serve as a moral code of conduct for how we interact with the world and beings around us. There are 5 yamas:
1) Ahimsa: to practice ahimsa is to practice non-violence or non-harming. Being kind in our words and actions towards others is a great start, but my understanding of ahimsa is that it's really about starting at the root. Not just being displaying kindness, but also being kind and gentle in our thoughts towards ourselves and others. This isn't something that's entirely natural - we all have unkind thoughts at times. So perhaps ahimsa is the practice of noticing the unkind thoughts that arise and questioning their validity and origin.
2) Satya: Satya is truthfulness, honesty, and integrity. Not only communicating the truth, but also living out our own individual truths - honouring ourselves by stepping into who we are, rather than trying to fit into who we might think we should be. We each have such unique gifts to offer when we have the courage to lean into our truths and be the beautiful beings we are!
3) Asteya: This is the practice of non-stealing. This might include not taking what is not yours, being mindful of what belongs to or may be valuable to another (ie: space, time), and giving credit where credit is due.
4) Brachmacharya: Brachmacharya is moderation of the senses, and living a life of non-excess. This is about being aware of what energies we are taking in and consuming - this might be sound, substance, or sensation. For example - developing a balance between silence and stimuli on your way to or from work. Perhaps you are a person who automatically turns on the radio in the car. What happens if you experiment with listening to silence? When we turn down the volume on a given stimulus, what other sensations come to the surface?
5) Aparigraha: Non-possessiveness and non-greediness. This is the practice of sitting with what we have, content. It's my understanding that aparigraha is the practice of pausing to notice the sense of fullness that already exists, prior to indulging further in a craving to purchase, participate in, or consume.