The Second Limb of Yoga

NIYAMA – INDIVIDUAL DISCIPLINES or PERSONAL OBSERVANCES

Niyama means inner discipline, rules/laws of conduct and responsibility for the individual; how you treat yourself, or how to set yourself right. Like the yamas, the five niyamas are not exercises or actions to be simply studied. They represent far more than an attitude. Compared with the yamas, the niyamas are more intimate and personal. They refer to the attitude you adopt toward yourself as you create a code for living fully.

These are sometimes called the do’s. The niyamas upgrade your qualities to live to your highest potential. There are five niyamas:

  • SAUCHA (Purity and Cleanliness): Saucha has both an inner and an outer aspect. Outer cleanliness simply means bathing: keeping yourself, your clothing, and your surroundings clean. Inner cleanliness has as much to do with the healthy, eating fresh and healthy food, and free functioning of our bodily organs as with the clarity of our mind. Practicing asana or pranayama are essential means for attending to this inner saucha. Asana tones the entire body and removes toxins while pranayama cleanses your lungs, oxygenates your blood and purifies your nerves. More important than the physical cleansing of the body is the cleansing of the mind of its disturbing emotions like passion, anger, lust, greed, delusion and pride.
  • SANTOSA( Contentment) : Cultivate contentment, compassion, modesty and tranquility by finding happiness with what  you have and who you are. Seek happiness in the moment, take responsibility for where you are, and choose to grow from there.  To be at peace within and content with your lifestyle, finding contentment even while experiencing life’s difficulties for life becomes a process of growth through all kinds of circumstances.

“Happiness is a practiced state of mind” – His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

  • TAPAS(Austerity/Disciplined use of our energy): Tapas refers to discipline in body, speech, and mind. Paying attention to eating habits, to  body posture, and to breathing patterns. The purpose of developing self-discipline is not to become ascetic, but to control and direct the mind and body for higher spiritual aims or purposes. The activity of keeping the body fit or to confront and handle the inner urges without outer show. Literally it means to heat the body and, by so doing, to cleanse it. Tapas helps you burn up all the desires that stand in your way of this goal.
  • SVADHYAYA (Self study): SVA = “self’ , Adhyaya = “inquiry” or “examination”. It related to any activity that cultivates self-reflective consciousness, like reading books that inspire and teach you.  To intentionally find self-awareness in all our activities and efforts, even to the point of welcoming and accepting your limitations. It teaches you to be centered and non-reactive to dualities, to stop unwanted and self-destructive tendencies. When speaking about spirituality, there are no good or bad things.  There are just things with properties and they either serve you or they don’t.  The understanding that you develop about the relationship that you have with your things, or the lack of, is self-study.

Education changes a person’s outlook on life. It is a life long process. As Iyengar says,  “a person starts to realize that all creation is meant for bhakti (adoration) rather than for bhoga (enjoyment), that all creation is divine, that there is divinity within himself and that the energy which moves him is the same that moves the entire universe.”

  • ISVARAPRANIDHANA (Celebration of the Spiritual): Living with an awareness of the Divine. Be devoted to God, Buddha, or whatever you  consider divine. The practice requires that you set aside some time each day to recognize that there is some omnipresent force larger than yourself that is guiding and directing the course of your life.