Introduction to the 5 Niyamas – The 5 Yogic Self Care Practices
So many of us begin our practice of yoga with the postures (asanas) or in other words with the physical practice of yoga. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this as it often provides us with a safe entry into this broad and profound path of yoga.
But in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the actual starting point for the practice is the Yamas and the Niyamas.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a sacred philosophical text written by the sage Patanjali sometime between 500 and 200 BCE. The text provides insights and practices for self-development.
The Yamas and the Niyamas are part of the 8 limbs of yoga according to Patanjali. The Yamas come first. They are the social ethics part of our yoga practice. Harmlessness, Truthfulness, Non-Stealing, Moderation of our Sensual Behaviour and Greedlessness. Basically; all of the qualities that make up good behavior.
According to Patanjali, these ethical disciplines are the necessary ground for a healthy and successful yogic practice.
The Niyamas are the 2nd limb. They are about personal self-care. They are often called the 5 internal observances because they are practices we do in order to maintain a healthy, balanced internal environment.
For me, these 5 observances are what I consider to be the backbone of my yoga practice. I think of them as being part of self-discipline regime. The kind of self-discipline that cultivates clarity of purpose and the inner strength needed to stay committed.
The 5 Niyamas are Purity, Contentment, Dedication, Self Study, and Devotion.
The interesting thing about the Niyamas is that they strengthen and protect the Yamas. For instance, if one is content, then one will not consider stealing. The Yamas and the Niyamas go hand in hand when it comes to creating a life that is calmer and more balanced.
My personal yoga practice really began to deepen when I took into consideration these first two limbs. My time on the mat became so much more than the achievement of the postures and much more about the quality of my practice time and the effect it had on the rest of my life.
In the words of one of my first yoga teachers, Judith Lasater, “If your practice is not supporting you in becoming a kinder, more compassionate and joyful person, change your practice because it is not working.”
Choosing to delve a little deeper into these aspects of your yogic studies will inevitably bring you the tools to help you flourish in your yoga practice and your life, in ways you never expected.
To find out more about Erika Trice and her next upcoming workshop:
An Introduction To The 5 Yamas And Asana, Sunday, April 29th, 2018 – Time: 2:00 pm – 5:30 pm
REGISTER here at YogaMountainStudio.com