According to Yoga Sutra by Patanjali, there is no “good” or “bad” behavior, writes Judith Lasater in the Yoga Journal. But we can practice certain states of mind to get specific desired results.

The first of five ethical principles or yamas is ahimsa, also refererred to as nonviolence. We often tend to think of violence as physical, but in yoga violence includes aggressive thoughts and words as well.

Practicing ahimsa simply means being aware of your thoughts toward yourself and others and noting in your mind each time you have a violent thought. Incidentally, the man who popularized the practice of ahimsa in India was Mohadas Gandhi, when he utilized the principle of nonviolence to free the Indian subcontinent from the British empire.

The second yama is referred to as satya or truth. This practice alludes to maintaining an intention of being truthful based on one’s interpretation of the world around hime or world-view. A deeper interpretation of satya implies inner truth and a life of integriy – i.e. how we behave when others are not watchig or judging us.

The next yama is nonstealing. This not only includes not taking what is not ours, but also implies taking more than we need or use. This is particularly relevant as it relates to depleting resources in the environment.

The yama that follows in the true path of yoga is brahmacharya. This practice emphasizes “walking with God.” The term not just implies giving up an obsession with sex, but also transcending that energy into spiritual strength.

And finally, the last step in the true path of yoga is nongreed. Avarice as is used here is not just material greed, as we often speak of in investing in stocks – the terms greed, and fear, for example. It can also mean a non-complacency with oneself, one’ belongings or relationships.

Just keeping these five steps in mind can make you a better person, grounded in yourself, and bring clarity to your mind. Its not so much the practice that matters, but the awareness of these principles in your thoughts and actions. Namaste!

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