I consider the 5 Yamas and 5 Niyamas to be the two most important limbs among the Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga. The Yamas and Niyamas, a mix of ethics and restraints, are the needed foundation for one’s yoga journey. They are the pillars of yoga. But unfortunately their importance is not emphasized in most yoga classes, and many yoga students have not even heard of them.
The 5 Yamas are: Ahimsa (Non-violence), Satya (Truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (abiding in Self, moderation in sensual pleasures), Aparigraha (non-accumulation).
The 5 Niyamas are: Saucha (Cleanliness and purity), Santosha (Contentment), Tapas ( Self-discipline that includes service and sacrifice), Svadhyaya (study of the Self), Ishvara Pranidhana (Honoring the Divine with gratefulness and surrender)
For a clear understanding of Yamas and Niyamas, I highly recommend listening to my spiritual master Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (www.artofliving.org)
Today I have been contemplating on Satya, wondering how truthful I have been and how I can become better!
Truth is not in the words, instead it lies in the intention behind your words and actions. You may be speaking truth by words, but if your intention is to hurt someone or to obtain a selfish gain, then you are not being truthful. Only you know your intentions. A yogi is very mindful of his intentions.
I know, at times, it can be quite challenging to follow Ahimsa, Satya or other principles of yoga . Some situations may demand an action that is against the principles of yoga. In such situations, according to Bhagvad Gita, as long as your intentions are clean, you must take the needed action, but not let the action and its fruit affect you.
You need a master who can teach you this skill by example. I feel blessed to have one. I have learnt so much just by observing Him. He is so active in the world and yet His mind is so still. His intentions are clean. Only a still and truthful mind can be so compassionate.
During Navaratri I encourgae you to contemplate on Yamas and Niyamas and see where you need to improve.
Without feeling discouraged, happily continue…. 🙂
I will do the same.