Yamas and Niyamas: In a Nutshell

The Yamas and the Niyamas of Yoga
Mauro Michel Jr.

The Yamas and the Niyamas of Yoga
Conventionally, Yoga is defined as a physiomental and spiritual practice aimed at achieving physical and mental gains. For instance, yoga has been implicated in reduced susceptibility to cardiovascular and dietary disorders, and in prevention of malignant growths. In addition, it is viewed as an ideal channel to psychological healing. By origin, the practice traces its roots in India. Appreciably, the practice of yoga is subject to tight adherence to the guiding principles commonly referred to as the yamas and the niyamas of yoga. In this case, the guiding principles involved in this form of meditation are analyzed.
The Yamas
The practice of yoga is fundamentally built on five yamas which are targeted towards providing the ideals and principles to be adhered to. Indeed, strict following of the yamas is viewed as a source of cosmic love, lightness and goodwill. The first yama, Ahimsa, involves revocation of violence. As such, this principle requires one to shun their violent nature if they are to successfully practice yoga. In addition, recantation of violence enables one to realize cosmic love. The second yama, satya, promotes truthfulness in yoga practice. This requires one to appreciate the unreal nature of illusions, and be focused towards realization of truths (Brahman). The Asteya, third yama, is also called the principle of non-stealing. This requires one to develop moral consciousness, a moral perspective that enables them to distinguish right and wrong. In addition, the yoga student must observe Brahmacharya, the principle of continence. This fourth yama is considerably a spiritual dimension of yoga. Finally, Aparigraha, the fifth yama advises against cravings and unreasonable wants.
The Niyamas
Like the yamas, there are five facets of niyamas. These include the shaucha, santosha, tapas, swadhyaya and ishwara pranidhana. Shaucha is oriented towards internal and external purity, with the belief that external purity is a precursor to internal purity. This may involve alleviation of lust, anger and jealousy, all of which are viewed as symptoms of internal impurity. To realize shaucha, one must remain vigilant. Santosha, on the other hand, is founded on acquisition of contentment, and removal of all desires. This is due to the yoga belief that divine light exclusively descends into contented minds. Tapas looks into yogic austerity, and is also believed to mean the need for restrained sensual activity and meditation. It may involve fasting and observance of silence. Swadhyaya refers to self-study of scriptures and other essential tools in an effort to alleviate doubts and to build faith. Finally, the ishwara pranidhana is an act of surrendering to God, a practice that requires the devotee to surrender fully to the heavenly beings.

Farhi, D. (2015). Yoga: the ten living principles-yamas and niyamas. Healthy.net. Retrieved from: http://www.healthy.net/health/article/the_ten_living_principles_yamas_and_niyamas/2410
Yoga Magazine. (2009). Yama and Niyama: the path to ethical discipline. Bihar School of Yoga. Retrieved from: http://www.yogamag.net/archives/2009/ajan09/y&n.shtml


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