25 Jul
2013

What Are the Yamas and Niyamas?

What Are the Yamas and Niyamas?

When Brian and I first studied yoga extensively, we were fascinated by the origins and composition of the yamas and niyamas. There are books on the topic and one could study this for a lifetime. Here is a brief overview of what I learned from Rory Trollen combined with what I have learned in other lectures, seminars, and books.

The yamas and niyamas are the first two limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The yamas and niyamas can be seen as 10 Guidelines to purifying life and becoming a better person. The distinction between the word guideline and commandment is important. The word commandment is generally used to strike fear whereas a guideline is your spiritual ally helping you along the path.

If you are a yogi, then you are a yogi 24 hours a day, on and off the mat.

There are yogis who say that they have been to a certain part of consciousness so they know for a fact that if you steal, kill, use drugs, or cause harm to others, you lose karma.

On the other hand good deeds give you positive energies that can be translated into will power, the ability to ย heal injuries, and concentration for mediation.ย For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

what are the yamas and niyamas?

Rory Trollen Practicing

Eventually, advanced yogis will develop paranormal powers such as the ability to read minds and refine senses to such a perfection that you can be in two places at once.

In summary, there is enormous potential to do things to yourself and to others. The yamas and niyama serve as guidelines on how to act and to insure that the yogi does not use these powers in a negative way but instead uses their light to help others.

The Yamas:

Ahimsa ~ Nonviolence

Satya ~ Truthfulness

Asteya ~ Nonstealing

Brahmacharya ~ Nonexcess

Aparigraha ~ Non attachment

The Niyamas (internal observances):

Saucha ~ Purity

Santosha ~ Contentment

Tapas ~ Goal Achieving

Svadhyaya ~ Self study

Ishvara Pranidhana ~ Why are you practicing yoga?

Brian and I will post a series of posts dedicated to each of the yamas and niyamas. Here’s a link to our first post in the series, dedicated toย ahimsa.

Do you intend on living by the guidelines of the yamas and niyamas?

6 comments Paz Romano

6 thoughts on “What Are the Yamas and Niyamas?

  1. Pingback: A Beautiful Gift from Ashtanga Yoga Student to Teacher | Lucid Practice

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  3. Lauren, what an interesting topic to write on ๐Ÿ™‚ What class was this for? We’d love to read your essay if you’d like to share! If so, please send us a private message. Thank you for your comment ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. it’s for my iyengar yoga teacher training course – I am waiting to get it back and then happy to share. there was some focus on how we lived with the yamas and niyamas and brought them into our practice – etc ๐Ÿ™‚

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