The second sutra prescribed by Patanjali is Niyama. Niyama translates as ‘positive duties’. These are habits to be cultivated for healthy living. The Niyamas should be installed in our behaviour, for us to live consciously and attain self-realization. The practise of Niyama gives us the self-discipline and inner-strength necessary to progress along the path of yoga.
There are 5 Niyamas of Yoga.
Shoucha santoshatapaha swadhyaya eshwarapran idhanani niyamaha” (II Sutra 32)
Shoucha = purity, cleanliness; Santosha = happiness; Tapaha = penance; Swadhyaya = self-study; Eshwarapranidhana = devotion to God.
Saucha – The Sanskrit term can be literally translated as “purity,” “cleanliness”.
This Niyama includes many practices for cleansing the body and mind. In our daily life we are surrounded by impurities in the external environment and internal body. When we have a clean environment around us, our thinking gets clear. Regular practices of asana, pranayama, and meditation cleanse and purify the body and mind to maintain a pure state of being. Consciously we should surround ourselves with clean environment be it friends, food, home or our office space.
We can practice saucha in the class by taking a shower before our class. We can start a habit of washing our feet and hands before entering the classroom. The Yoga mat should be wiped down after each class. Saucha of speech can be practised in the yoga class. Maintaining silence helps to deepen the practice and show respect to the teacher.
The word is from the Sanskrit sam, meaning “completely” and tosha, meaning “contentment”. Altogether, it translates to “complete contentment.”
Santosha is a state of attitude and inner peace. In life we are constantly comparing with others. Our happiness is tied to material wealth and possessions rather than a spiritual awakening. Santosa means accepting what we have and moving forward from that situation. We should learn to appreciate what we have rather than complain about what we do not have.
Let us not to look outside of ourselves for happiness, but to realize that peace and happiness lies within. Let us not wait for happiness. We have everything within us to make us happy and feel contented.
The word comes from the Sanskrit root word “tap”, which means “warmth or heat.” This word in yoga can be related to the concept of the inner fire needed to achieve spiritual awakening. Tapas requires will power that can be developed over time with regular practice. Self-discipline is doing an activity that we don’t like doing, keeping in mind the long-term positive effects on our life. Disciplined yoga practice can be one type of tapas. All of us know there is discipline and effort for regular yoga practice in a meaningful way. It will change our life for the better in the long run.
Tapas can be towards inculcating new habits, achieving better focus, paying attention to our health. Most of the times the desire of the mind conflicts with the will power, which can cause an inner fire. This fire becomes the foundation of spiritual energy. It is said by yogis that practicing regular Tapas can release the Kundalini energy.
The term comes from the Sanskrit roots sva, meaning “self”, and adhyaya, meaning “lesson,”. Svadhyaya means a close study of the self.
The yogic practice of Svadhyaya involves studying spiritual and sacred texts. These texts can give us a direction to find our true self. These texts are difficult to start at first. We can start by studying a yoga blog, or a book or even a poem that resonate with your thoughts. This way we can cultivate our mind to reading more serious material.
It is not enough to just read, one should reflect on the readings. Applying the readings to our own experiences and making the necessary changes is a must. This way we take our yoga practice from the mat to our everyday life.
We should contemplate on the lessons we learn from our lives. Examining our thoughts helps us to understand ourselves and brings about clarity in our thoughts. Many a times our actions are unconscious without much thought to the repercussions it can cause. Contemplation helps us to see our thoughts in a composed manner rather than a reactive manner.
.. In Sanskrit , Ishvara means “Lord” or “Supreme God,” and pranidhana means “surrender”.
Ishvara pranidhana is surrendering the self fully to the Divine or the superior force. We should trust the wisdom of the Divine to guide our life and actions.
Surrendering oneself to the superior power is described as the easy path to peace and realization. But most of us know this is the hardest path to follow. We are inclined to control our every action and the outcome thereof. “Letting go” is not easy.
Yoga helps us to achieve this by practices of meditation along with matra and mudra.
To benefit from a yoga practice, we have to expand beyond the mat and bring the yamas and niyamas into our everyday life. When we achieve this transition, we not only stretch and strengthen our bodies, we expand our minds and heart as well. We move closer to the path of self-realization and are connected with the universe.