Following on from our previous blog we explore the second of Pajanjalie’s eight limbs of yoga – Niyamas. Niyamas relate to your attitude towards yourself. By understanding these a little more, you can then think about how to build them into your life.
If you want a deeper, more meaningful existence, the niyamas provide a set of rules or ‘observances’ to help. They are your own personal blueprint for living a happier, healthier life and will lead you towards a more positive relationship with yourself. After all, it’s impossible to be kind to others if you haven’t worked out how to be kind to yourself.
There’s a reason why the yamas and niyamas come before asana in the eight limbs. If you turn up on your yoga mat with negative, aggressive thoughts, you won’t progress in your practice. Saucha is all about purity – both in terms of personal cleanliness and mental clarity. It encourages you to let go of unhelpful thoughts and habits that don’t serve you well.
Do you spend your whole time thinking, ‘I’ll be happier if…?’ This can lead to a constant sense of frustration and unhappiness. Santosha means accepting and appreciating what we have and what we are. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have goals, but you need to understand which ones are really important to your life and your well-being.
Achieving a more ‘yogic’ state of mind takes effort, hard work and self-discipline. It’s not something that happens overnight. Tapas literally means ‘heat’ and relates to the fiery passion you need to channel towards your own self-improvement.
We all have our ‘default’ settings that mean we react to things in a certain way or fall into the same unhelpful traps. By practicing self-reflection and observing yourself, you can start to change these habits and learn who you really are.
This can be interpreted many different ways but it’s essentially about realising that everything you do is for a greater purpose and not just for yourself. By letting go of selfishness and thinking about the greater good, you become grounded, humble and at peace.
Yama’s & Niyama’s may seem overwhelming, but by embracing even one small part of the yamas and niyamas, you’ll notice a difference in your life. Take it one step at a time and remember, always be kind to yourself!