The 5 Yamas (Self Restraints) Overview

The Yamas explore yoga’s ethical practice which is the foundation of Yoga thought. There are five Yamas which can be defined as self restraint guidelines. It is a precursor to Asana, implying that success in asana can be had only if the self is purified in thought, word, and deed through the self-restraint of Ahimsa.

The Yamas are mainly focused on our interaction with the world. By considering these five Yamas in your daily yoga practice, all of your habits and actions will guide you to become more authentic and compassionate towards yourself and others.

The Five Yamas 

  1. Ahimsa (non-violence)
  2. Satya (truthfulness)
  3. Asteya (non-stealing)
  4. Brahmacharya (right use of energy)
  5. Aparigraha (non-greed)

The Yamas Yoga Class Themes

I recommend picking one of the illustrations to be the theme for your class and then creating a yoga lesson plan using our Yoga Lesson Planner. You can download and print the illustration and use them in your yoga classes.

The Yamas illustrations can also be used as eye-catching yoga philosophy handouts that you can give to your students. My students love visually appealing handouts. So, please feel free to download and print as many of them as you like. They also make lovely posters for your yoga studio.

The First Yama: Ahimsa (non-violence)

The Yamas Ahimsa Quote
Yamas 1 Ahimsa The Mahabharata
The Yamas Ahimsa Mindmap

The First Yama: Ahimsa (non-violence)


Also Known As: अहिंसा (Sanskrit), Ahiṃsā, Ahinsa, Non-violence


“How can I turn Ahimsa into a memorable yoga class theme using the Yoga Lesson Planner?”


Follow these three steps…

Step 1: Create A Lesson Plan

Create a lesson plan using the Yoga Lesson Planner.

I think a slow, Yin-style yoga lesson plan would make an ideal non-violent, Ahimsa theme. So, the lesson plan could focus on seated and floor yoga poses, and also include a guided relaxation exercise, a mantra, and a pranayama exercise. This lesson plan will help your students to slow down enough to become more aware of themselves and others.

Oh yes, I almost forgot…

With the Yoga Lesson Planner, you’ll have a whopping 1000+ seated and floor poses to choose from. Plus, you can also choose from 100+ guided relaxations, mantras, and pranayama exercises. Pretty cool, heh. So, if you’re ready to save time with your yoga lesson planning, click here to find out more.

Step 2: Rehearse The Ahimsa Talking Points

Paste the Ahimsa Talking Points (see below) into the description section of the lesson plan, or download the Ahimsa Mindmap illustration (see above). Use the talking points as a guide for the Ahimsa talk you give to your class.

Step 3: Download, Print, & Distribute

Download the Ahimsa-inspired illustrations (see above). Print and give them to all your students as handouts. With the Yoga Lesson Planner, you can upload the Ahimsa illustrations to your lesson plan. Why is that so good? Well, it allows you to access the lesson plan and the illustrations in one convenient place. For example, in two years, you might want to use the same Yoga Lesson Plan.

Ahimsa Mindmap: Talking Points

When giving your Ahimsa talk at the beginning of the class, you can download the “Ahimsa Mindmap” image (see above), and cover the following talking points…

Ahimsa Interpretation
Ahimsa can be interpreted as not physically harming others, ourselves, or nature; not thinking negative thoughts about others or ourselves; and making sure that what we do and how we do it is done in harmony, rather than causing harm.

Foundational Virtue
Ahimsa serves as a foundation for the other four Yamas. It’s about establishing non-violent relationships with others and with yourself. It is a key virtue in the Indian religions: Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism.

The most popular advocate of the principle of Ahimsa in modern times was Mahatma Gandhi.

Ahimsa is related to the notion that any violence has karmic consequences.

Non-violence Practices
Practising gratitude, trusting the moment, slowing down versus rushing from action to action, and thinking about others are some simple daily practices that can help move you towards a state of non-violence.

Spark Of The Devine
Ahimsa is a multidimensional concept, inspired by the premise that all living beings have the spark of the divine spiritual energy; therefore, to hurt another being is to hurt oneself.

Violence With Yourself
How you treat yourself is how you treat those around you. Look into your own lives and become aware of the subtle ways in which you are violent with yourself through harmful thoughts and habits. This awareness will increase your capacity to be non-violent towards others.

Other Interesting Talking Points…

Ahimsa is derived from the Sanskrit root hiṃs, meaning to strike; hiṃsā is injury or harm, while a-hiṃsā is non-harming or nonviolence.

No other Indian religion has developed the non-violence philosophy and its implications on everyday life as has Jainism. Jainism teaches that the path to enlightenment is through nonviolence and reducing harm to living things (including plants and animals) as much as possible.

The Mahabharata
The Mahabharata, one of the epics of Hinduism, has many mentions of the phrase ‘Ahimsa Paramo Dharma’, which means: ‘nonviolence is the highest moral virtue’.

Yajur Veda
The Yajur Veda (dated to be between 1000 BCE and 600 BCE) says, “May all beings look at me with a friendly eye, may I do likewise, and may we look at each other with the eyes of a friend”.



The Second Yama: Satya (truthfulness)

The Yamas 2 Satya Quote

The Third Yama: Asteya (non-stealing)

The Yamas 3 Asteya Quote

The Fourth Yama: Brahmacharya (right use of energy)

The Yamas 4 Brahmacharya Quote
Yamas 4 Brahmacharya John Lennon

The Fifth Yama: Aparigraha (non-greed)

The Yamas 5 Aparigraha Quote

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