The Yamas and the Niyamas are the 10 commandments of the Hindu sacred scriptures. Yet they are so much more than a list of do’s and don’ts; they are ethical guidelines laid out in the first two limbs of Patanjali’s eight fold path of Yoga. Think of them as a map that will guide you on life’s journey. In this blog I’ll give you a basic synopsis of our 10 Commandments of ethical yoga.
1. Ahimsa ~ Nonviolence
The first of the Yamas is about much more than not killing. It’s about finding our courage to create a balanced life. This Yama helps us to discover self love and how we can be deeply compassionate people that explore life with curiosity. The best part of Ahimsa is that it brings us into an awareness to be thoughtful and aware of our words to ourselves and others.
2. Satya ~ Truthfulness
This little Yama is so much more than saying the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. With an awareness of truth we can learn to be real instead of just nice with our words. Gandhi said in his autobiography that his life was an experiment with truth.
3. Asteya ~ Nonstealing
We all understand this one but take it a step beyond the obvious with me. When we worry we steal from the future.
4. Bramacharya ~ Nonexcess
This Yama deals with taming our overindulgence tendencies and making this time on Earth more balanced.
5. Aparigraha ~ Nonpossessiveness
“This Yama invites us to let go and to pack lightly for our journey through life, all the while caring deeply and enjoying fully.” Deborah Adele
6. Saucha ~ Purity
Mentally and physically we come to this Niyama with a sense of waking up an energy inside of us. Compare it to spring cleaning, we get rid of the clutter to make way for the new. And in so doing we are able to connect more with the divine mystery of life.
7. Santosha ~ Contentment
This lovely Niyama helps us to walk in a state of gratitude, not seeking to gain but to maintain and be satisfied.
8. Tapas ~ Self Discipline
This one is obvious isn’t it? Don’t go for that second bowl of ice cream, even if it is Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia! But friends this is much more than will power. Tapas is the self-discipline that helps us to develop a routine of exercise, create and maintain a quiet space for meditation and most important ………to practice the self awareness of being in control of our thoughts, words and deeds.
9. Svadhyaya ~ Self Study
This is where I put a plug-in for the workshops that Carla provides for us here at the studio. Whether they are for yoga, fitness, health or a book study, we all need those tuneups from time to time that take us deeper into our journey, our belief of who we are and what we can be.
10. Ishvara Pranidhana ~ Surrender
Our final Niyama reminds us to give up control and let some things just be. A great example of this is shavasana at the end of a yoga class. We are asked to lie still in corpse pose and surrender, to let go for just a little while longer before we pick up our day, our life, or whatever. As we lie there silently absorbing the practice we are able to release the tension and trust the Earth beneath us. And think of this, to surrender…… doesn’t that mean to let go and not anticipate the next move?
My thoughts for this blog came from the book “The Yamas and Niyamas, Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice” written by Deborah Adele. She states in her book, “The Yamas and the Niyamas are foundational to all yogic thought. Yoga is a sophisticated system that extends far beyond doing yoga postures; it is literally a way of living.” All of us at Premier have discovered that this is sooooooo true! We exercise or practice yoga because it grounds us and ultimately makes us better people, for ourselves, our families, and for our community.
Grace and Peace,