Yamas & NiyamasI remember last year when I began studying the Yamas & Niyamas. I wondered how would I ever remember them in their Sanskrit terms and what do they really mean? An avid reader, I decided the best way to understand these Moral codes handed down to us in Sanskrit via the yoga world would be to read a book that goes into more detail about the behind-the-scenes meaning of ancient Sanskrit words via contemporary time.
If you are familiar with the beatitudes or the Ten Commandments, these are both a good comparison to give you a deeper understanding what these to words mean.Think of the Yamas as a moral universal code and the Niyamas as a ‘moral code,’ that can help each individual more harmony on their own personal journey.
The Five Yamas & Five Niyamas:
- Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): Nonviolence, non-harming to self or to living beings. “To create a life and world free from violence is first and foremost is to find our own courage.”
- Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, honesty: “Truth has the power to right and end wrongs. It is fierce in its demands and magnanimous offerings.” -Deborah Adele
- Asteya (अस्तेय): Non-stealing, Do not take from others. “Imagine if each time we took something, we gave something back.”-Deborah Adele
- Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): Non Excess/Withdrawal from the senses.
“Brahmacharya invites us to live with God, not excess.”
- Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः):Non-possessiveness: “Aparigraha invites us to let go, pack lightly for our journey through life, all the while caring deeply and fully.”
- NIYAMAS-Virtues-Moral Codes to follow
- Śauca (शौच): Cleanliness. Purity. “Saucha invites us to purify our bodies, our thoughts and our words.”- Deborah Adele
- .Santoṣa (सन्तोष): Contentment. -With contentment, it doesn’t mean that we settle for where we are, rather to find joy and gratitude for all that we have now. Contentment with self is part of this and with others. This could mean letting go of grievances we might be holding onto, and if we let go, our inner spirit will find contentment and peace.
- Tapas (तपस्) Discipline. Yoga brings us to our mat and we look down at our feet, we are there to begin again for another day of practice, to deepen our knowledge of inner self and tapping into deeper wisdom. Without discipline, we might miss the mark of our fondest dreams.
- Svādhyāya (स्वाध्याय): Study of Self helps us understand our purpose and find more peace from within. I guess in some ways that’s why this yoga language speaks deeply to me. With a deeper understanding of ‘self,’ we are able to be more free.
- Īśvarapraṇidhāna (ईश्वरप्रणिधान): Surrender. “The yoga pose called Savasana,’corpse pose,’is a posture for practicing surrender.” -All quotes in quotations in the Yamas & Niyamas are from Deborah Adele’s book- featured above. I highly recommend it.
- When we take time to invest in ourselves and live a life that follows set principles,
new doors can open and we can unhinge ourselves from wrong thinking. The Yamas and Niyamas are like a gateway to helping each of us uncover our strengths and our weaknesses with full gratitude.
Try the Studio
- You must stop in at the studio at Carlsbad Village Yoga in the heart of Carlsbad Village.
- Find a sense of peace and balance just inside our studio. The community of teachers and students connect here to find more of what their soul needs: deeper breathing and a place to feel at peace. See you soon. Check the schedule to see what classes work best for your yoga practice.