Yamas & Niyamas

 

The Yamas and Niyamas are the first two limbs on the eight-fold path of Aṣṭāṅga yoga.

Simply put, the Yamas and Niyamas are a set of ten yogic precepts - comparative to the Christian and Jewish Ten Commandments, or the Ten Virtues of Buddhism. They offer a map to guide us on our life's journey. They represent yoga's ethical practice, and are a powerful and effective set of tools that can be utilised on and off the yoga mat.

The Yamas are a set of social ethics which teach us about the power of restraint, while the Niyamas are a set of self-observances that can assist us in fulfilling our greatest potential.

Over the course of time, Indian sages have highlighted in their teachings that without at least an understanding of Yama and Niyama, the Yogi cannot progress along the yogic path.

In his teachings on Raja Yoga, Swami Vivekananda put it like this..

Yama and Niyama are moral trainings; without these as the basis no practice of yoga will succeed. As these two become established, the Yogi will begin to realise the fruits of his practice; without these it will never bear fruit.”

The ten jewels of Yama and Niyama alone, if understood and practiced, can lead to the peace and equanimity that is yoga: Non-violence, Truthfulness, Non-Stealing, Moderation, Non-Attachment, Purity, Contentment, Self-Discipline, Self-Study and Surrender; the secret ingredients to a well-rounded practice, and a bountiful life.