Yamas and Niyamas

The first two of the eight limbs of yoga.

The Yamas and Niyamas provide guidelines to live our daily lives. We could think of them as a “code of conduct”.

Yoga is made up of more than stretching into the poses and fine tuning the breathe. We also need to cultivate Ethical Practices into our Yogic lifestyle.
The five Yamas are the qualities that we demonstrate to others, that support a knowing that we are all connected and contribute to the wellbeing of others.

The five Niyamas support the respect for our personal well being of our mind and body.

As we go through life we tend to ebb and flow – which yama and niyama is with your focus right now?

Five Yama’s: Universal Morality
Ahimsa ~ Nonviolence to others or self This is one of foremost yamas. It means the lack of intention to hurt others. This intention need not be just physical but includes mental and emotional cruelty. You should not even have the intention of offending others.
Satya ~ Truthfulness in word and thought This quality implies the honesty and sincerity in thoughts, words and deeds.
Asteya ~   Nonstealing In Sanskrit, Asteya denotes the enjoyment or keeping the things that do not rightfully belong to them. This is basically the act of stealing or theft. A person is inclined to steal only when he has some selfish motive. A student of yoga learns the art of loving self as well as others. Hence he does not feel the need to exploit or steal from others.
Brahmacharya Using sexual energy wisely. Sex has been defined as on of the vital necessities of human existence. It ranks next only to food. However excessive desires may lead to harming others.
Aparigraha ~ No possessiveness This Yama means not going on collecting wealth and objects excessively. Yoga teaches one to collect wealth and objects to share and serve others that may not be so privileged. Greed causes distraction and leads to increased strain on the mind and body.
Five Niyama’s: Personal Observances
Saucha ~ Purity & cleanliness of body and mind This includes the cleanliness of the mind and the body. Yoga has described a clean mind as the one free of any prejudices, false beliefs, ignorance and ego.
Santosha ~ Contentment A yogi is taught to be happy and satisfied and to be grateful for his gifts, skills, opportunities and loved ones.
Tapas ~ Self-discipline Yoga believes that this increases the resistance power of the body and makes your body and mind stronger and thus you can face adverse conditions effectively.
Svadhyaya ~ Self-study This practice is very useful for overcoming ignorance and facing the adversities of life calmly.
Ishvara Pranidhana ~ Devotion to the God within This teaches you to rely on the divine will. This is a very useful habit to cultivate as you can achieve peace of mind and eliminate fear and worry.

 

Let us know if you would like to learn more about the Yamas and Niyama’s.

There has been much written on the interpretations of the Yama’s and Niyamas.

I recommend reading;  Donna Farhi: Yoga Mind, Body, Spirit
Yoga Mind, Body and Spirit: A Return to Wholeness

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