Niyamas

In Sanskrit niyama means ‘observance’ and it comprises the second limb of Patanjali’s eight-limbed yoga system.  These practices help to extend the ethical guidelines provided in the first limb, the yamas. Niyamas describe actions and attitudes that we should cultivate to help us maintain a positive environment in which to grow.  The practice of niyama gives us the self-discipline and inner-strength necessary to progress along the path of yoga.

The Ten Traditional Niyamas are:

1)  Hri: Remorse, being modest and showing shame for misdeeds

2)  Santosha: Contentment, being satisfied with the resources at hand and therefore not desiring more

3)  Dana: Giving, without thought for reward

4)  Astikya: Faith, believing firmly in the teacher, the teachings and the path to enlightenment

5)  Ishvarapujana: Worship of the Lord, the cultivation of devotion through daily worship and meditation

6)  Siddhanta shravana: Scriptural listening, studying the teachings

7)  Mati: cognition, developing a spiritual will and intellect with the guru’s guidance

8)  Vrata: Sacred vows, fulfilling religious vows, rules and observances faithfully

9)  Japa: Recitation, chanting mantras daily

10) Tapas: Austerity, the endurance of the opposites, hunger and thirst, heat and cold, standing sitting, etc.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra lists five niyamas to be observed.  These are:

1)  Shaucha (purity)

2)  Santosha

3)  Tapas

4)  Svadhyaya (self-study or study of spiritual scriptures)

5)  Ishvarapranidhana (self-surrender)]

Although there are many branches to the tree of yoga, from devotional methods to more intellectual approaches, from schools that emphasize service toward others to those that focus on physical purification, Patanjali Sutras, clearly define an eight-limbed path (ashtanga) that forms the structural framework for whatever emphasis upon which an individual wishes to concentrate.  Growth in your practice will naturally happen when a person is sincere in his/her wish to grow and evolve with a yogic lifestyle.