An Understanding of Niyams; Second Limb of Ashtang Yoga

Niyams are personal observances or guidelines mentioned in Vedas, yogic texts, Upanishads, Smritis and Samhita. Niyams form the second set of moral codes of conduct for yoga aspirants and for any individual to live a harmonious and joyful life.

Yogic science is not only related to body, mind and spirituality, but it’s a science that teaches a harmonious lifestyle and how people can coexist peacefully to make this world a better to live in.

The practice of niyams depends on the stage of yoga practice and the individual’s comfort and capacity.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra mentions about five Niyams, whereas other Vedic texts mention about a total of ten Niyams.

5 Primary Niyams

1. Santosh

Santosh means Contentment. Have only what is necessary, don’t be greedy to have more. Practising contentment frees us from unnecessary suffering and misery.

2. Shauch

Shauch means Purity and cleanliness. Shauch means maintaining internal and external purity. Thoughts and deeds must be pure and innocent, one must clean body daily and keep surrounding clean.

3. Tapas

Tapas means Austerity. One must follow self-discipline and persistence as both are essential in the yogic path.

4. Svadhyay

Svadhyay means Study of the self. One must follow the self-reflection about conscious and unconscious thoughts, emotions, desires, actions, etc. Reflect over any mistakes done and correct them gracefully. Svadhyay also means the study of spiritual texts.

5. Ishvarpranidhan

Ishvarpranidhan means devotion to the divine. To receive the benefits of yogic practices, one must surrender to the higher self or divine. Let go of the identification of “I” and let the higher consciousness evolve.

5 Secondary Niyams

6. Astikya

Astikya means Faith. To have faith and conviction in self and scriptures.

7. Dan

Dan means Charity. Be generous and share with others and do charity as per the capacity.

8. Siddhant Shravan

Siddhant Shravan means Study or Listening to Scriptures.

9. Mati

Mati means Think, reflect and reconcile upon self ideas.

10. Hri

Hri means taking care of actions and refraining from non-virtuous actions


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