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Yamas & Niyamas

The Yamas and Niyamas have enriched my life and enhanced my perspective on the interconnectedness of all beings on this planet. I would like to share a brief description of them with all of you.

The Yamas and Niyamas are the first two of the eight limbs of yoga as described in Sutra 2.29 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. These principles are general guidelines of behavior and must be applied on a relative basis to each unique circumstance and context in which the yogi is involved. They eventually become a road map to ethical thought and behavior. Study, self-scrutiny, and discernment of its application will eventually become second nature to the yogi.

Yamas: Sutra 2.30 (Behavior Restraints):

In many ways these five moral disciplines are universal, appearing in most of the ancient religions of the world. All of the Yamas apply to actions, words, and thoughts. They are ethical guidelines for the yogi, pertaining to his/her relationship with others in society, the outer environment and nature, and are essential to the spiritual development of the student of yoga.

  1. Ahimsa (Non-violence; Non-harming): Loving kindness to others, compassion, mercy, gentleness, not blocking or obstructing the flow of nature. Complete commitment to non-violence in thought, word and deed.

  2. Satya (Truthfulness): Being genuine and authentic to our inner nature, having integrity, honesty, being honorable, not lying, not concealing the truth, not downplaying or exaggerating. Truthfulness without blame or judgment in all situations.

  3. Asteya (Non-stealing): Not taking what is not yours- money, goods or credit for creativity. Not robbing people of their own experiences and freedom. Non-desire for another’s possessions, qualities, or status (jealousy or envy).

  4. Brahmacharya (Total commitment to Self celebration or Self as God): Relating to the world with unconditional love and integrity, without selfishness or manipulation. Practicing sexual moderation and restraining from sexual misconduct.

  5. Aparigraha (Non-clinging): Non-possessiveness, voluntary simplicity, not accumulating things beyond what is necessary, non-attachment to possessions, greedlessness. "Take what you need, and leave the rest."

Niyamas: Sutra 2.32 (Internal-Restraints):

Ethical guidelines for the yogi pertaining to his/her daily activities. Observances of one’s own physical appearance, actions, words and thoughts. Self-observation without blame or judgment.

  1. Shauca (Purity): Cleanliness, orderliness, clarity, balance. Internal and external purification. Humility and pride in the human body as a vehicle of experience.

  2. Santosa (Contentment): Equanimity, peace, tranquility, complete acceptance of the way things are (no resistance).

  3. Tapas (Discipline or Austerity): Can be interpreted as a burning desire for reunion with God as expressed through self-discipline, purification, willpower, austerity, and patience. In other words - A taming of the ego.

  4. Svadhyaya (Study of the Self): Self-inquiry, mindfulness, self-study, study of the scriptures, chanting and recitation of the scriptures (this increases your vibration). Searching for the Unknown (Divinity) in what we perceive as 'Know' world. Scriptural study and how it applies to your psychology.

  5. Ishvara Pranidhana (Devotion to the Divine, as it is interpreted and appreciated by the practitioner): Open-heartedness, unconditional love, “not my will, but Thy will be done” mentality, complete surrender and willingness to serve Source.

resources :: 2008 StarSeed Yoga Teacher Training Manual & The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda

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