An Overview of the 5 Yamas

Overview of 5 Yamas pic

Often times when we think of pain, we think of it as purely a physical problem. For my profession, it is implied with the name (Physical Therapy). However, with more and more research, pain is much more complicated than that.

Yoga has been shown with several research studies that it can help reduce pain. There are so many reasons for that, but let’s look at yoga from a different view. Yoga is much more than postures (or asanas, in the language of sanskrit).

There are 8 limbs of Yoga – that means postures is only 1 of these limbs.

The first one is around Yamas. These are 5 guidelines for living in right connection with your deeper self and aligned with ethical principles.

And when we live in alignment with our deeper self and in line with our ethical principles, our mind and body are better able to thrive.

So lets get into the 5 Yamas {aka Ethical Principles} according to Yoga and how they can be practiced during your healing journey with physical therapy.

The words we speak to ourselves or others directly impacts our experience. Even the thoughts you think, your brain believes. Be intentional with your words and actions to align with the peace you are looking for in your mind and body.

Instead, maybe look at the pain as your body reaching out for help, looking for attention. How would you approach that body part differently? How can you approach it with kindness and compassion?

This yama asks us to be able to see the world or situation as it really is. Being able to step back away from our unique perception and see the bigger picture.

This asks us to check in with ourselves in our healing journey. Are you accepting your part in your healing journey? Are you eating well, moving your body, reducing non-beneficial stressors? What can you do differently to see all of what needs to happen to heal?

How do you feel in a cluttered space? Research shows us that feelings of stress and overwhelm actually reduce our threshold for pain (meaning – you will feel pain more quickly and easily, ouch!). Do you have a cluttered home, care, bedroom, workspace?

Maybe you can let go of the things that you don’t truly need to find a little more openness. This will free you up to be able to receive the things you do need to heal and support yourself on your journey to thriving.

Are you doing too much? Are you sitting on the couch all day? Each individual need a different level of activity and mental stimulation, are you doing what is right for you?

How do you know what is right for you? Talk with someone experienced in Ayurveda, to learn about your constitution. Also, ask yourself what you are excited about, curious about, or interested in…. Start to add more of that into your week. Maybe you do that thing once per month to start, then up to once per week, than maybe daily… The important thing is that you find joy in your life.

Also translated as, not grasping at things. In physical therapy, it is important to have goals and desired outcomes. Yours is probably something along the lines of, “getting out of pain!”

This is a fantastic and absolutely important goal. But if we continue to focus on the goal, rather than all the steps we need to do to achieve that goal – we will often be left frustrated and not any closer to being pain free.

Essentially, the concept here is that you have the right to work, but you don’t have the right to the fruit of that labor. Now, the conundrum here, is that often with paying attention to the details and the process leads you to the desired outcome anyway! So, do the work. Do your exercises, go to your physical therapy appointments, meditate, eat foods that nourish you, sleep well. If you do that, you’ll get the outcomes you want, but without grasping for them!


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