In April 2012, the Challenge of the Week – the call to live yoga – was focused on the Niyamas.
The niyamas are ethical precepts in the Yoga Sutras based on our personal codes of conduct. The Niyamas relate to our internal attitude.
There are five Niyamas, five ‘wise characteristics’ to imbibe.
See and experience the Niyamas as a reminder that our true nature is compassionate, generous, honest and peaceful.
1. Saucha (cleanliness)
In Saucha, we keep our life clean and tidy on all levels: personal, living space, environmental, community, food, body, mind, emotions, and psyche. Clutter in our outside environment can contribute to clutter in the mind. Maintain pure thoughts, positive emotions, a friendly mental outlook. Saucha makes us aware of the influence of what we take into our body and mind.
The manifestation of Saucha creates cheerfulness, concentration and sense control, bringing clearer perception and a vision of our pure self.
2. Santosha (contentment)
In Santosha, we practice contentment with whatever we have and with whatever is given to us. We strive to live in the present moment without craving or desiring more. We continually question our expectations ~ of ourselves and of others.
The manifestation of Santosha is the ability to withstand daily problems without being deeply affected because we are able to accept what comes. Contentment stabilizes the fluctuating mind and creates sattvic (pure) qualities for meditation.
3. Tapasya (austerity)
Most of us live with some level of comfort. Practicing tapasya is challenging ourselves to do something OUT of our comfort zone. In Tapasya, we consciously bring something into our life that is uncomfortable (but not harmful) that tests our strength. The more we step out of our comfort zone, the larger our comfort zone becomes! No wonder we see so many yogis at ease in life.
By consciously bringing discomfort into our own lives, we develop our spirit, inner strength and capacity to better manage the discomforts and conflicts in life. Tapasya strengthens our will power, nervous system, body and mind for meditation, and enables us to better manage our lives.
4. Swadhyaya (self study)
In Swadhyaya, we make time for self reflection, self observation, analysis and knowledge of our personality. We begin to know ourselves on many different levels:
At the physical level – watching our actions and reactions.
At the level of the personality – being aware of our strengths, weaknesses, ambitions and needs, in order to know who we are.
At the level of the mind: understanding how our mind works and notice what disturbs us.
Spend time contemplating the self and the mind. Practicing Swadhyaya can simply be siting quietly for a few minutes at the end of the day and asking, “What did I do well today?” and “What will I do differently next time?” Write the answers down to track your progress.
Swadhyaya illuminates our strengths and what we need to change in order to live a more healthy, happy and harmonious life.
5. Ishwara Pranidhana (Divinity, Higher Self)
Ishwara Pranishana is the connection with our higher self. In our actions, we are mindful of our higher potential and our higher principles. We question if we are living our life with a higher purpose. We endeavor to understand and experience unity in diversity.
Ishwara Pranishana cultivates a more tranquil mind and brings awareness to that which is greater than us.
As we practice the Niyamas, we contribute to our own health and happiness and the health and happiness of those around us.
Hari Om Tat Sat!
© Copyright 2012 – All Elements Yoga – Gail Seckrettar