Yamas & Niyamas

An inside guide for non-yogis

During my teacher training I learned that yoga is not only physical, but it’s a 360 degrees lifestyle and there are other layers and practices beyond asanas and breath control. The real work is done throughout our daily lives and is off the mat. In particular, Yamas and Niyamas are the ethical guidelines Yogis should follow.

The Yamas

Yamas (ethical considerations) are easily applicable to the ‘Western’ everyday life, as they’re basically the last five commandments of Christianity and they’re the things you should avoid. Most of us already follow them in daily life, non-violence, non-lying, non-stealing, non-cheating, and non-jealousy are basic rules for individuals and society as a whole. These actions lead to hate, anger and depression, and they are an obstacles for whom who wants to find peace and freedom.

The Niyamas

Niyamas (self-discipline) are a bit more subtle and refer to things to actually practice everyday. Niyamas are a journey to self-love and growth, to become a kinder and wiser human being.

Being clean, taking care of your physical body as a sacred temple and being free from destructive and unnecessary thoughts, Sauca.

Express gratitude for the gift of life, for our senses, our feelings and the people we love, Santosa.

Learning from the past, even if it was hard, because it builds your strength and a more compassionate personality, Tapas.

Being honest about your own emotions, first of all towards yourself. Hiding your feelings won’t make you stronger. Svadhyaya.

And devotion. Knowing that there’s something more out there, something greater that rules everything in a perfect harmony and being grateful for that, Isvara Pranidhara.

Yamas and Niyamas everyday?

Yamas and Niyamas give you a chance to commit to yourself to become a stronger, happier, and more powerful human being. Applying them to your life means empowering yourself from within and you don’t need to be a yoga teacher to achieve that!

As a newbie to all of that, you may find the whole concept overwhelming, it’s normal. My advice would be to only focus on one guideline at time, trying to implement it in your daily activities and thoughts.

Interesting books and articles

The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice

Easy and practical guide for both experienced yogis and curious newbies to yoga and Vedic philosophy. Nice to read how to associate Yamas and Niyamas with our modern, busy life.