The 196 brief verses or aphorisms that make up the Yoga Sutras describe the theory and asanas (postures) of yoga. The sutras are credited to the ancient Indian sage Patanjali, who is thought to have written them around 300 CE.
The four “padas” (chapters) that make up the sutras each cover a distinct component of yoga. “Samadhi Pada,” the first chapter, examines the essence of yoga and the techniques needed to reach a state of meditation and introspection.
The first two limbs of Patanjali’s eightfold path of yoga, as described in the Yoga Sutras, are yama and niyama.
Yama alludes to the moral guidelines or constraints that yoga practitioners should abide by. There are five of them:
Brahmacharya (celibacy or moderation)
The personal practices that yoga practitioners should cultivate are referred to as niyama. The five niyamas are:
Tapas (discipline or spiritual austerity)
Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender to a higher power)
As they offer a moral and ethical framework for leading a yogic lifestyle, the yamas and niyamas are regarded as the cornerstone of yoga practice. These guidelines can help practitioners develop a deeper sense of inner harmony and calm, which can eventually result in spiritual enlightenment.
Here are some specific examples of how you can relate each yama and niyama to your yoga practice on the mat:
* Ahimsa (non-harming): To prevent injury, practice poses thoughtfully and in tune with your body’s limitations. Be nice to yourself and don’t exert more physical effort than is healthy for you. Also, show compassion for your classmates by refraining from critiquing or criticising their work.
* Be real with yourself about your physical and mental well-being during your practice. Satya. Pay attention to your body’s cues and refrain from overextending yourself. Be honest with people as well by respecting their boundaries and avoiding pushing them past what they find comfortable.
* Asteya (non-stealing): Refrain from assuming poses or stances that are already being held by another person on the mat. Avoid comparing yourself to others or wishing you had their skills as well.
* Brahmacharya (moderation): When practicing yoga, avoid overdoing it in any one pose or sequence and exercise moderately. Also, refrain from any kind of sexual exploitation or misbehavior while you are practicing.
* Aparigraha (non-greed): Cultivate contentment with your current level of practice and refrain from obsessing on mastering advanced poses or competing with other students.
2. Niyama: * Saucha (cleanliness): Maintain the cleanliness and free of any debris of your yoga mat and any other props you use. Also, maintain good personal hygiene and pure, optimistic thinking.
* Santosha (contentment): Express gratitude for your degree of practice at the moment and find contentment in your current situation. Refrain from seeking perfection or comparing yourself to others.
* Tapas (discipline): Exercise discipline in your yoga practice by regularly attending classes and making progress toward your objectives. Practice self-discipline by putting aside outside distractions and concentrating on your practice.
* Svadhyaya (self-study): As you exercise, practice self-examination and self-awareness. Consider how certain postures and movements make you feel both physically and mentally, and use that knowledge to inform your practice. Study yoga philosophy as well as the background of the practice’s history and philosophy.
* Ishvara pranidhana (surrender to a higher power): During your practice, practice giving up control and putting your faith in a higher force. Release your attachment to the results and concentrate on the practice’s method rather than the output. Be humble and respectful of the teachers who share their practices with you as well as the practice itself.
By incorporating each of the yamas and niyamas into your yoga practice on the mat, you can deepen your understanding and experience of the practice beyond just the physical postures.