The first limb of the eight limbs of yoga, Yama, is made up of five restraints – five ways to prevent harm to other beings: ahimsa (non-harming), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya(moderation), and aparigraha (non-grasping). In the Yama-s lie the keys to being in community – with unity – with other beings. I am thinking, as July 4th nears, of another way to describe community: interdependence – dependence between.

Many of us grew up in the U.S. learning about independence; it is valued above most everything but money (and money is often used to buy independence!). But what does it do to the fabric of our society? Can it make us more interested in our own freedom than the freedom of others? Can it make us willing to allow harm to others? To steal from others? To grasp and take to excess?

Interdependence asks more of us. It asks us to rely on one another, to meet others’ needs and ask others to help us meet ours. It asks us to acknowledge that we are all related, to one another, and to other living beings. And it can help to have some guidance. Right now, as so many in our country are divided, how can we turn to the Yama-s to reduce harm, respect, and reconnect?

Tell me what you think at annephyfe@8limbsyoga.com.

Posted by: Anne Phyfe Palmer, 8 Limbs Owner & Studio Director

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