Ashtanga yoga: Yamas and Niyama philosophy

With the busy and competitive environment of modern times’ big cities, we usually find ourselves tangled in between a bunch of emotions. I am sure many of us have some time been driving in a rush, through heavy traffic, and our mind and body rising in temperature because we cannot make it in time to that date or appointment. The final outcome is frequently cursing (hopefully silently) at people and the scene becomes worse and worse. These kind of scenes only fog our mind creating a fake reality. Raja Yoga observes this and offers us some tools to train ourselves for a better understanding and control of the mind. Within the 8 limbs of Raja Yoga we find the Yamas and Niyama.

Yamas (or restraints) is the control of the bad energies our mind can bring into our lives when it is allowed uncontrolled debauchery. Ahimsa, Satya, Brahmacharya, Asteya and Aparigraha are the 5 restraints of Yamas, meaning non-violence, non-lying, sublimation of the sexual energy, non-covetedness and non accepting of gifts.

Niyama is the limb related to the observances. Pure and clear observance of ourselves and our surroundings with the wide perspective of the universe and the Lord will lead us to purity, contentment, austerity, study of religious scripture and the surrender of the ego into the Lord.

Taking into account our character is forged through our mind, Yamas and Niyamas are essential to build our moral and ethical conscience and behaviour. It helps the mind have calm and steadiness. We can then say that Yamas and  Niyamas are essential tools for meditation and enlightment.