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Yamas For Mamas

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Kate already explored the Yamas & Niyamas in relation to yoga and our children {jump back here!} but let’s focus purely on mama for a moment.

The Yamas are loosely translated from Sanskrit as “restraints” and offer 5 ethical guidelines of what not to to do in life. They are considered “universal morality”. Yoga wisdom says follow these simple rules and you’ll reduce suffering while increasing the happiness of others.

In an age where we suffer the consequences of telling ourselves what not to do, “don’t eat that”, “don’t drink that”, “don’t birth like that”, “don’t mother like that”… perhaps we could find a more positive approach.

“Yama is the cultivation of the positive within us, not merely a suppression of what we consider to be its diabolical opposite. If we consider the nonpractice of yama in this way, we will be doomed, not to encourage the good, but to ricochet between extremes of vice and virtue, which will cause us nothing but pain and which have no beneficial effect on the world. Cultivate the positive, abjure the negative. Little by little, one will arrive.”

Firstly, let’s break the 5 Yamas down and then apply how these may be relevant to us as mamas.

Ahimsa ~ non-harming

This asks us to avoid harming others and ourselves through our thoughts and actions. This one seems pretty obvious but maybe it’s not what we don’t say and do but what we do say and do. Not only to others but to ourselves.

Do we cultivate the positive or harbour on the negative? We should be celebrating others achievements in business and motherhood, not knocking each other down.

How do we treat ourselves? What our your overriding internal thoughts – do you take the time to appreciate how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved as a mama? Do you take the time for regular #selfcare? Surely this is as important as not harming our bodies and minds.

Alternative: celebrate others, celebrate yourself.


The yogic practice of honesty requires the yogi to study themselves closely and own up to limitations that can lead to dishonest behaviour. Although perhaps rather than focusing on the limitations we have, we should focus instead on our inner truth.

At YogaMamas we are passionate about being and living true to ourselves in everything we say and do. This is particularly difficult in mamahood when we are presented with so many differing ideals on how we should behave and perform as a mum. Both in motherhood and life it’s essential to be true to yourself. Of course be advised by what you hear and see, but don’t let it define you. Choose to travel your own true path.

Part of this is being honest with yourself, with your opinions, feelings and reactions. Are you being true to your own passions and feelings or are you persuaded by the opinions of others?

Alternative: Live true to yourself.

Asteya ~ non-stealing

The idea of non-stealing involves more than just the superficial notion of not taking something that doesn’t belong to you. In yogic terms it delves deeper to look at ones dissatisfaction with one’s own belongings or circumstances.

Of course, it’s easy to say be grateful for what you have. But perhaps in turn we can explore the root cause of our feelings. Sure, look at the things in your life that you are grateful for, but by the same token when you sense that feeling of dissatisfaction creeping in, ask yourself what is the true cause. Is it something you can actually change? Does this relate to the practice of Satya and being true to yourself?

Alternative: Search for what sets your heart on fire.

Brahmacharya ~ non-excess

This is also known as ‘sensual moderation’. Let’s pause to appreciate the irony in this one. Controlling ones sensual desires? Hmm, as mamas this is less of an issue, am I right? Honestly, who has the energy to follow ones deep sensual desires when we can barely keep our eyes open during regular daily activities?! Though perhaps there’s another side to this for us too.

Traditionally this ancient practice of brahmacharya referred to a yogi taking a vow of celibacy. It was thought that the sensual desires and related actions required energy that was better invested in one’s spiritual awakening. Yep, no risk of that for the average mama.

But, if we spin this the other way, perhaps sensual moderation could be related to us actually dedicating more time to our sensual desires. Any new parent will tell you that the first thing to go out of the bedroom is intimacy when both partners are at the peak of exhaustion. Plus the process of creating and then raising a baby can actually become an act of necessity rather than intimacy. What if our practice of brahmacharya was actually to honour ‘sensual moderation’ by ensuring it’s not completely void for us. There’s certainly little risk of it becoming excessive, but definitely important that it’s there.

Alternative: Honor intimate moments.

Aparigraha ~ non-possessiveness

The final of the 5 yamas encourages us to let go of attachments. This letting go of things we don’t need frees us from clinging, obsession and the worry that often accompanies attachment.

At YogaMamas one of our 2017 desired feelings is actually ‘space’. If we replace the idea of letting go with the notion of ‘creating space’ we give this yama a much more positive connotation.

Alternative: Create space in your life.

In the end, only three things matter; how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.

~ Buddha

Rather than thinking of the yamas as ‘restraints’ on aspects of your life that you need to control or give up, spin it and find the positive. In fact, don’t just think of it as the ‘positive’, think of it as the way forward.

Find space, intimacy, passion, authenticity and celebration in your life.