“YAMAS AND NIYAMAS”
Within the study of yoga, there are a series of universal moral principles by which the serious yoga student should be guided. These principles are often referred to as the “Ten Commandments” of yoga. By following these, students work towards individual development of body, mind and soul.
The first five, the “yamas,” are restraints or precepts of social discipline:
AHIMSA – Non-violence. Not harming others or oneself. Not harming the environment. Tolerance even for that which we dislike. Not speaking that which, even though truthful, would injure others.
SATYA – Truthfulness. Sometimes we may know our words are literally true, but do not convey what we know to be truthful. Satya means not intending to deceive others in our thoughts, as well as our words and actions.
ASTEYA – Non-stealing. Not taking that which is not given. Asteya is not limited to the legal definition of stealing. It means non-stealing in its broadest possible sense, including non-covetousness.
BRAHMACHARYA – Moderation/Self-control. Regarding others as human beings rather than as male and female bodies. Not using others for our own selfish desires.
APARIGRAHA – Abstention from greed. Not coveting that which is not ours. Avoidance of unnecessary acquisition of objects not essential to maintaining life.
The second five, the “niyamas,” are observances or precepts of individual discipline:
SAUCHA – Cleanliness/Purity. Not only external cleanliness of the body, but attending to internal cleanliness such as avoiding the impurities of anger and egoism. Moderation in diet.
SANTOSHA – Contentment. Enjoying and accepting what is and be grateful for what we have. All we need lies within the moment, even if that moment is difficult.
TAPAS – Austerity. Deep commitment to our yoga practice. Clearing our slate of the daily residue that can color our perceptions.
SVADHYAYA – Self-study. Spiritual self-education. Self-reflective awareness of who we really are.
ISVARA PRANIDHANA – Awareness of the Divine. Acknowledgement that there is a higher principle in the universe than one’s own small self. Modesty. Humility.