Theory


Many people do yoga and don’t realize the long-standing traditions that are associated with it. Depending on the type of yoga that you choose to participate with there are backgrounds to reach a  deeper practice. Overall there  are some basic that are part of all yoga practices.

The Yamas and Niyamas are part of Patanjali’s yoga sutras of Ashtanga yoga. Yoga sutras are one of the fundamental texts that this yoga stems from. The yamas are ways that you try to live your life outwards. And the Niyamas are inward disciplines that one can use to create a better sense of self. There are a total of ten of these Yamas and Niyamas. Below is the list of all of them and their definitions:

Yama:   Precepts of Social Discipline

    Ahimsa — Non-violence.   Not harming other people or other sentient beings.   Not harming oneself or environment.

Satya — Truthfulness.  Not intending to deceive others in our thoughts, as well as our words and actions

    Asteya — Non-stealing.   Not taking that which is not given.

    Brahmacarya — Using your life force meaningfully.   The spirit of this precept is conservation of energy for the purpose of spiritual practice.   This includes not only sexual restraint, but protecting our energy for instance by avoiding endless chattering with no clear purpose.

    Aparigraha — Abstention from greed.     Not coveting that which is not ours.   Avoidance of unnecessary acquisition of objects not essential to maintaining life or spiritual study.

    Niyama:   Precepts of individual Discipline

    Sauca — Cleanliness.   Not only external cleanliness of the body, but attending to internal cleanliness such as avoiding the impurities of anger and egoism.   Moderation in diet.

    Santosa — Contentment.   Not spiritual complacency, but acceptance of the external situation we are allotted in this life.

    Tapas — Perserverance.   Deep commitment to our yoga practice.

    Svadhyaya — Self-study.   Spiritual self-education.

Isvara pranidhana — Surrender of the self to God.   Acknowledgment that there is a higher principle in the universe than one’s own small self.  Modesty.   Humility.

Next time you practice think of one of these ideas and use it on your practice and then work on using it off your mat. But how do all of these relate to practicing yoga? Well not all of them do, so choose one that does. For example: Aparigraha – Not coveting that which is not ours. This can be done during practice by not looking at others practicing and wanting to have a practice like theirs, but taking others out of your practice you bring the attention back to yourself.
This is just one lesson in yoga, but hopefully you can use it in your practice and become more comfortable with yourself on and off the mat.

Namaste!

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