There is a bunch of oh so wonderful things that sort of bring together the teachings that are yoga. Things that make yoga that lil more special. The reason why so many come to yoga not just to be able to touch their toes, but to learn more about themselves, and to be able to sit with their discomforts.
One of those layers in that yoga onion, is of course, the Yamas and Niyamas.
Yamas and Niyamas are fundamental principles that first originated from Indian philosophy. They provide guidance on how to live that balanced and fulfilled life we all secretly or not so secretly are striving for, by cultivating certain positive attitudes and behaviors.
You can break them down like this:
1. Yamas: Yamas are moral and ethical guidelines that help us interact harmoniously with others and the world around us.
Ahimsa (Non-violence): This is about avoiding harm to others, both physically and emotionally. In everyday life, it means treating others kindly and avoiding actions or words that may hurt them. How do you treat the planet, yourself and others?
Satya (Truthfulness): Being honest and truthful. In your daily life, it means being sincere and not lying or deceiving. Can also relate back to speaking your own truth.
Asteya (Non-stealing): Respecting others' possessions and not taking what doesn't belong to you. It's about valuing what you have and not coveting what others have.
Brahmacharya (Moderation): This is about using your energy wisely and not indulging in excess. In modern life, it translates to finding balance in how you spend your time and energy. My favorite line.. if its not a hell yes, its a no.
Aparigraha (Non-possessiveness): Letting go of attachment to material things and being content with what you have. It's about appreciating experiences over accumulating stuff. Do we really need 37 pairs of yoga pants?
2. Niyamas: Niyamas are personal observances that focus on self-discipline and self-improvement.
Saucha (Cleanliness): This involves keeping yourself, your surroundings, and your mind clean and clear. It's not just about physical cleanliness, but also mental clarity. Fun fact, did you know we absorb the same information in one day, then they did in their whole life 100 years ago? Wild.
Santosha (Contentment): Being content with what you have and finding happiness within, rather than relying solely on external things.
Tapas (Self-discipline): Practicing self-discipline and determination to achieve your goals. It's about putting in effort and working hard towards what you want.
Svadhyaya (Self-study): Continuously learning and understanding yourself through reflection, study, and self-awareness. Meditation is one of the many ways to get down with this one.
Ishvara Pranidhana (Surrender to a higher power): Acknowledging that there's something greater than yourself and letting go of your ego. It's about humility and recognizing your place in the grand scheme of things.
Relating to Everyday Life: These principles might sound old-fashioned, but they are still super relevant to us civilians because of the following:
Communication: Practice truthfulness and non-violence in your interactions with others. This fosters healthy relationships and reduces conflicts.
Consumerism: Embrace non-possessiveness by focusing on experiences and relationships rather than constantly acquiring more yoga pants.
Stress Management: Self-discipline and moderation help manage stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Gratitude: Contentment and self-study remind you to appreciate what you have, and make every experience and educational one.
Humility: Surrendering ego can help you stay open-minded, learn from others, and contribute positively to the community and beyond :)
Overall, the Yamas and Niyamas provide a practical framework for having more mindfulness, compassion, and personal growth in our daily lives.
And that can only be good.
We can go much more in depth, but lets save that for Teacher Training ;)
Any feedback, comments or questions, always feel free to reach out,