The 5 Niyamas of Yoga Explained
“Niyama” The 5 Niamas is the second limb, among the eight limbs of yoga described in Patanjali’s yoga sutra. It comprises of five internal practices, which extend the moral codes of conduct that Yama provides. Niyama extends these practices to a person's internal environment of spirit, mind, and body. Practicing niyama assists us to uphold a positive atmosphere where we can grow. Besides, niyama provides the self-discipline as well as inner-strength a yogi needs in order to become better in their yogic practice. The niyamas of yoga and the eight limbs is a guide to living.
So, What Is The Importance Of Niyama?
Niyama, by its nature, is an obligation or a duty. It includes habits and tasks that can assist you to live healthy and well. The niyamas are practices that you should instill in your behaviors if you want to live consciously and become self-realized.
Saucha – PurificationSaucha is the first Niyama amongst according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. This Niyama includes several practices for cleansing the body and mind. In fact, many yogis describe Saucha as the “aim of the whole yoga system.”
The impurities found both in our internal bodies, and the external environment can affect the state of our minds negatively. As a result, our minds can be unable to attain spiritual liberation and the real wisdom. However, practicing pranayama, meditation, and asana can help in purifying and cleansing the mind and body. Also, it can strengthen the capacity of the mind and body to uphold a clean state of being.
Saucha also encourages us to surround ourselves with a clean environment. This includes drinks, food, friends, home furnishings, transportation, and entertainment. This means we should prevent external impurities from getting into our minds and bodies. According to the sages, Suacha is the foundation of bodily health, and it opens the door to a tranquil and deeper state of meditation.
- Saucha practice tip – always choose wisely the different choices of emotions, food, and thoughts you allow into your mind and body. Your body is purified when you experience a healthy living style. When your mind is purified, you will start to become increasingly friendly, cheerful, and clear.
Santosha – Contentment
Santosha is defined as “contentment” or “joy, happiness, or delight.” This Niyama teaches us not to crave for what we don’t possess, and not to covet what other people have. Santosha comes from experiencing acceptance.
That is accepting life, ourselves, and what life brings to our lives. Contentment brings happiness. When you are content with what life gives you, then you will be able to attain true happiness and joy. And this is the true key to santosha. This Niyama brings the gratification of contentment—which makes happiness our choice.
Our minds can easily be fooled to think that long-lasting happiness can come from possessing goods and objects. However, the sages and personal experience teach us that the happiness you gain by possessing materials is short-lived.
So, what does this teach us?
Practicing contentment sets us free from the needless suffering of desiring things in your life to be different. Instead, it fills our lives with joy and gratitude for the blessings we already possess.
- Santosha practice tip – teach yourself how to let go of the things that happened in the past. Don’t judge yourself because you are not wealthier, more successful, or wealthier than you are. Set your mind free from any expectations. This will assist you to see life your life in a much larger perspective and be able to deal with its challenges with composure.
Tapas - Self-discipline
The literal meaning of this niyama is "heat." This heat usually builds up through times of resolute effort. Tapas requires us to practice intense self-discipline and achieve willpower. Self-discipline is doing something that you don’t want to, but it has a positive impact on your life. Tapas accompany the disciplines that are gladly and willingly accepted for them to bring an absolute change in our lives.
This can be new habits, improved healthy living, different direction of life, or better concentration. When the desires of our minds conflict with our wills, this causes an internal fire, which burns and illuminates our physical and mental impurities. The inner fire that is created becomes a foundation of spiritual energy.
Most yogis say that practicing tapas causes the discharge of kundalini as well as attaining enlightenment. The good thing about tapas is that it purifies and transforms us. Besides, enables us to control our poor behavior and unconscious impulses, and improve our mental health.
Tapas creates passion, increases confidence and strength, and focuses energy. This assists us to become more committed to practicing yoga. Tapas will continuously remind you of your goals and will push you towards achieving it.
It removes the negativity in you though detaching you from the unnecessary things in life. In addition, it keeps you away from things like procrastination, unpunctuality, laziness, and distraction.
- Tapas practice tip – it is essential to understand that Tapas can be applied in every area of our lives. Tapas assists us to perform our daily duties with full effort and determination. Through the zeal of tapas, always ensure that you make "healthy" modifications in your life. However, make sure that you concentrate on one or two modification each time. Always make small steps that you can accomplish without any challenge. Lastly, replace all the habits in your life that you think are unproductive.
Svadhyaya – Self-Study
It gives us the ability to realize who truly we are. Through svadhyaya, we are able to see and understand our true nature through contemplating the lessons we learn from our lives as well as meditating on the truths that were revealed to us by the sages and seers.
Svadhyaya gives us an infinite chance to learn about our weaknesses and flaws and assists us to correct them and move beyond them. Examining our deeds helps us to understand our desires, motives, and thoughts more clearly. This includes the things we do either consciously or unconsciously. Doing that assists you to understand your mistakes, and helps us to address these mistakes in a composed manner.
The yogic practice of svadhyaya involves studying spiritual and sacred texts. These texts direct us to our inner world and this where we can find our true self. Understanding ourselves is more than analyzing and observing ourselves now. It also requires seeing past our present state in order to understand our connection with God.
According to the sages, the greatest wisdom that you can ever possess is to know yourself. This helps you to understand what you need to do and fix for you to improve yourself.
- Svadhyaya practice tip – start by studying the writings that motivate you to start feeling the existence of the connatural spirit. Then, start to apply this niyama in your day-to-day life as you practice the yamas and niyamas, breath awareness, asanas, and meditation. In addition, learn to identify when you are working towards achieving your goals, and when you are not.
Ishvara Pranidhana – Self-SurrenderThis is devotion, surrender, and dedication to higher or divine power. Ishvara Pranidhana assists you to drop your ego, and this helps you to understand how you can benefit from the things you do. According to Patanjali, you must drop your ego and the endless identification with yourself if you want to achieve yoga goal.
For you to achieve this, you should consider your yoga practice as well as all the benefits that you might receive from your yoga practice as an offering to a higher being. By dedicating yourself to yoga practice, you get reminded of your connection to a divine being. This makes your yoga practice to become “sacred.” In addition, you are filled with inner peace, abounding love, and grace. However, this will only happen when you drop your selfishness and start surrendering to god.
All you need to do is…Stop focusing on yourself! You need to look at the outside world, feel and enjoy the universe and everything that is in it. Embrace, connect, open up and love!
- Ishvara Pranidhana practice tip – when practicing meditation, monitor the desires and thoughts that divert your concentration. Rather, ensure that you focus your attention on your being's center. This might assist you to surpass the confines of your connections and start to feel the existence of your inner stillness.
Now when you know more about the path of yoga and the five Yamas and Nyamas, we hope this will help you understand the eight limbs of yoga and as a guide to living.
Yogateket recommends continuing with hatha yoga or other therapeutic yoga along with the study of yoga philosophy and self-study as part of your daily life in your journey of yoga.