Yama & Niyama ~ The 8 limbs of Ashtanga

YAMA:

How I practice AHIMSA (non-harm)  on or off the mat… I usually go for Eco-friendly materials like organic cotton clothes if possible. They are not only very comfortable but they are harmless to the workers harvesting the cotton and the environment. Pesticides can cause a lot of health issues to the workers and harm the environment. For my sports attire, I usually purchase those made from recyclable materials such plastic bottles.  The materials dry up fast and are very comfortable especially in our tropical climate. Though I’m not a vegetarian, I try to eat less meat, eggs are my main source of protein.

SATYA means truthfulness. Not being afraid to be who you really are. Life is not about putting up a good show but to be comfortable in our own skin and walk our talk ✌️

ASTEYA: non-stealing, freeing oneself of jealous instincts. Living in a modern city like Singapore, it can be quite difficult not to compare and crave to own the things that others have. This is however, not difficult for me as I am a very busy working mum. I hardly have spare time to think too much. Staying focus on what really matters to you in life helps. My family means the world to me.

BRAHMACHARYA:    I would interpret it as devoting my heart and focusing my mind on following the teachings of the yoga teachers that i have chosen to learn fro. Committing our heart and soul to our practice is never easy. There are many distractions every day, can we follow our heart but still our mind each time we are on our mat? “Yoga is a journey of the self… through the self… to the self”~ Bhagavad Gita It is a journey of self practice with our spiritual being. I’m still learning to still my mind by starting with meditation first every morning before I kick start my practice. Off the mat, I have learnt to say ‘No’ when it is necessary so that I will not lose focus on what I have prioritised to be done. Staying focus helps me to use my limited time available wisely without losing sight of what I have set out to accomplish 😉

APARIGRAHA, one of the hardest to practise self-restraint because we live in a very materialistic and competitive world! Bottomline is, are we spending within our means to possess these material gains. Did we hurt ourselves or others or the environment in the pursuit of gaining them?  Are we contented with what we already have? Things that I need to use regularly, I will consider them as a necessity. I identify necessities that I need and avoid buying items that are made from killing animals in the process such as using animal’s skin.

 

NIYAMA:

SAUCHA means purity of the body, speech and mind. The enlighten path of a true yogi is definitely not easy. The thing I love about yoga is, it is unlike other sports, it is a non-competitive exercise to strengthen your own spiritual being. Over this coming year, I have learnt to eat cleaner, not totally clean yet. I am not a vegan, although 80% of my diet is fibre base – fruits, vegetables and carbo. I also try to avoid  food that may harm my body such as deep fried heaty food as I’m a dominant Pitta. Purity of speech and mind is the toughest.

We can try to be kind but sometimes it is difficult not to react to the actions of others. It may take many more OM years to practice.

SANTOSHA, or the practice of Contentment, refers to one’s acceptance of the present which tends to generate the capacity for hopefulness ~ excerpt from Yoga mind, Body & Spirit. Relating to my yoga practice, I don’t push myself beyond my capacity. If I have tried to my max and it still does not happen, I know it will happen only when my body is strong enough and that is fine.

Off the mat, contentment to me will only happens when I have accomplished what I have set out to be done in the present. I set myself achievable micro goals for the present so that I can reach my future dreams.

TAPAS (Fiery Discipline)

Finally there is one Niyama that is more of my current practice minus the ‘fiery🔥😁

I am usually quite discipline because I have 3 children looking up to me all the time. Where yoga is concern , my discipline has been to get on my mat everyday. I use to find pockets of time through out my busy schedule to workout. After attending this YTT, I understand the importance of having the discipline to wake up early with allocated time for daily practice.

SWADHYAYA (self-study/ self reflection)🌟 The first thing I learn through Swadhyaya ever since I started regular yoga practice is my lack of self love. I have to make conscious effort to remind myself that I am worth it😉 when I realised how good it felt, I want to bring it forward to remind others as well that is why I become more involved In social media to reach out to others like the old me. I was brought up in the old school methods whereby my parents and teachers back then don’t keep saying positive things to motivate us because I guess, they don’t practice self love too… When I have to constantly motivate myself, I learn to identity my strengths and weaknesses on and off the mat, and how I could have done things better. Old school methods may not be a bad thing, it helps to build resilience in us.😉

ISHWARA-PRANIDHA (Divinity/ Surrendering to the spiritual being)🌟 Sometimes things happen for a reason, it may be through our own actions but without us realising it then. Sometimes it can be through the help of others to make us see ‘the light’ to lit our path in our life or yoga journey.  I guess this is the omnipresent force larger than ourselves that is guiding and directing the course of our life. It is a belief and faith that we hold on to. Surrendering ourselves to the spiritual being is the toughest of all the Niyama in my opinion. We are constantly distracted by things or events happening around us daily, it takes all the previous Yama and Niyama to steer us back on course. I am excited to see things unfolding as I take little steps to make adjustments in my life and my family’s.

 

Contributed by Annie Chua (Jan’17)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *