The Niyamas

“The Niyamas invite us to consider how we live our lives when no one else is paying attention.” –Deepak Chopra

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The ancient spiritual teachings of yoga hold a lot of wisdom—useful even in today’s modern world. If you’re new to yoga philosophy, the five Niyamas are a great place to start.

The word "yoga" means to unite the three layers of our existence: body, mind, and spirit. The 8th century philosopher and theologian Adi Shankara describes this as the physical, subtle, and causal aspects of our being. There are four primary paths of yoga: one is the Royal Path to union. Within the Royal Path, there are eight branches of yoga: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. Each of these paths serve as different entry points into an expanded sense of self through various experiences, choices, and interpretations that ultimately lead us back to our true essential nature.  It's important to first understand that the eight limbs are not to be seen as sequential stages, but rather an exploration into various branches of the Royal Path of yoga.

At least 1,700 years ago, the sage Patañjali (often regarded as the father of modern yoga) provided the framework for yoga practice in the Yoga Sūtras.  The eight-limbed path is the heart of the Sūtras.  These eight-limbs guide us, help us find meaning in the things we like to do, and help us live the life we want to live- staying true to yourself.

नियम is the Sanskrit word for “Niyama.”  Niyama is the second of the eight-limbed path of yogic practice as discussed in the Yoga SūtrasThere are 5 principles that encompass the Niyamas:                                                        

  • Shaucha (cleanliness/ purity),

  • Santosha (contentment),

  • Tapas (disciplined use of our energy and literally means to heat the body),

  • Svadhyaya (self-inquiry or self-examination), and

  • Isvarapranidhana (surrender to God).

 

A good way to think about the five Niyamas is to frame them as observances that you, as a yogi, take on for your personal growth and make as relevant as possible to your daily life. They are an outline for how you, as a yogi, treat yourself on a daily basis.  The Niyamas will guide you in maintaining a positive environment in which to thrive while giving you the self-discipline, humility, and inner-strength necessary to progress along the daily path of yoga. 

 

The Niyamas are the foundation of my company's service offerings to my customers.