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The Yamas
This month Jivamukti Yoga focuses on: Union through others.  You can take Jivamukti at LRY with Julia Howe Sullivan and Sofi Dillof. Here’s an excerpt from Sharon Gannon’s (co-founder of Jivamukti) essay on the topic:”The state of “yoga,” or “union,” is when the individual self reunites with the infinite, undifferentiated, eternal Self…Enlightenment is the goal of all yoga practices. Perceiving others—that is, perceiving ourselves as separate from others—is the biggest obstacle to enlightenment…Yoga teaches us that in truth there is only oneness; others are an illusionary projection coming from our own minds, from our own past karmas (actions).In the ancient text, the Yoga Sutra, the sage Patanjali suggests a few practices that may help us dissolve otherness and bring us closer to union…He suggests that if we are still seeing others and not the divine oneness of being, then: Number one—don’t hurt them (ahimsa); Number two—don’t lie to them (satya); Number three—don’t steal from them (asteya); Number four—don’t manipulate them sexually (brahmacharya); and Number five—don’t be greedy, taking so much that you impoverish them (aparigraha). He gives these directives in the second chapter, the chapter on practice, and he refers to them as the five yamas (restrictions)—five ways to restrict your behavior in regards to the others you may encounter in your life.On an immediate practical level, how we treat others will be reflected in our own experience of life. The others in our lives are a reflection of us. If we ourselves desire happiness and liberation from suffering, then our relationships with all beings and things should be mutually beneficial. No true or lasting happiness can come from causing unhappiness to others. No true or lasting freedom can come from depriving others of their freedom.”

The yamas seem so simple and basic upon first glance, yet it can take lifetimes of practice to truly be established in them. Take Ahimsa, for instance: this yama, non-harming, sets the foundation for all other yamas. To lead a life of Ahimsa doesn’t just mean to go around resisting the urge to physically hurt others; it means resisting harmful thoughts or words toward others or taking actions that could in someway hurt another being or Mother Earth.

Many people practice yoga in an effort to bring more peace and happiness into their own lives. But as yogis have known for many years, no one is free until we’re all free. Bringing the yamas into your everyday life will promote the happiness and freedom of those around you and, in turn, bring you closer to union.