The 5 Niyamas of Ashtanga Yoga

The Niyamas are the 2nd limb of Ashtanga yoga, after the yamas.  The Niyamas are guidelines for how you should treat yourself and how to develop and improve your personal qualities.  Whereas the yamas present guidelines for how we should treat others, the niyamas tell us how to treat ourselves, moving us ever so slightly deeper along the path towards enlightenment.  The niyamas are:

  • Shauca: Cleanliness/Purity: Keep your self (internally and externally) and your environment clean.
  • Santosha: Contentment:  Distinguish between true happiness that comes from doing good and happiness that comes at the expense of others.  Distinguish between temporary and lasting happiness.  Practice being a content and joyful person for the benefit of all.
  • Tapas: Discipline:  Tapas means fire.  It is our burning desire and dedication to the practice of yoga.
  • Svadhyaya: Study of the Self:  Are you implementing the morality you know is right?  Continual work on one’s self to become a better person is fueled by practice and and study of yogic scripture, text and philosophy.
  • Ishvara Pranidhana: Devotion to God: Be grateful every single day for your life.  Have faith in your yoga practice.  Find a selfless source of inspiration.

The niyamas are methods of further refining your person.  They prepare us for the next limb of yoga, the asana practice and for eventually moving onto the more internal limbs of Ashtanga.  Think of them as practices that will help you become the person you want to be.  Try to incorporate them, along with the yamas, into your everyday life.

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