Yama and Niyama in Yoga

10 Dec

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Yama

Yama, or universal morality, is comprised of five ethical guidelines for moral behaviour towards others. These guidelines are:

1. Ahimsa – or nonviolence. This includes non-violence in thought, word and deed. In other words, do not think about or engage in harm toward yourself, or anyone else.

2. Satya – or truthfulness. As was the case in Ahimsa, the truthfulness requirement also pertains to your thoughts. Don‟t just speak the truth; seek out the truth in your own mind, and do not trick or manipulate yourself.

3. Asteya – or non-possessiveness. You should not steal from others, and you should not even desire things that are not your own.

4. Bramacharya – or non-lust. This has traditionally referred to celibacy amongst the unmarried, and, in the case of marriage, to abstaining from sexual intercourse with people other than one‟s spouse. Many modern yoga methods have adopted a more liberal interpretation of the Bramarcharya guideline.

5. Aparigraha – or non-possessiveness. This refers to material objects, the people around you, and even your own thoughts.

 

Niyama

While Yama provides guidelines for how to treat others, Niyama is comprised of five ethical guidelines governing moral behaviour towards oneself. These include:

1. Saucha – or cleanliness. This pertains to cleanliness of both body and mind.

2. Santosa – or contentment. When one is content, one is satisfied with what one has.

3. Tapas – or sustained practice. The “tapas” requirement refers to discipline over the mind and body.

4. Svadhyaya – or self-study. This involves study of the scriptures and meditation, with the goal of fostering an awareness of one‟s soul.

5. Isvara pranidhana – or surrender to God.

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