The Yamas and Niyamas of Yoga are the first 2 steps on Patanjali’s eightfold path of Yoga – the path that is designed to take us all the way to a realisation of the wisdom of Divine Intelligence’s plan for us all being here in this life, on this planet: to the sweet, deep contentment and joy-for-life that comes from following our bliss and knowing our life purpose. It’s a path of deep life-contentment with Yoga wisdoms and personal disciplines: learning the power of our minds to transform our lives.
As Sam my Meditation teacher told me, “live at your soul level and go on from there . . . some things matter more than an apparent illusion of having “power”: intelligence, control, happiness and consciousness. And what matters most of all is that you understand yourself and enjoy your life!” He taught from the tradition of Vedanta, the Indian philosophy which teaches life freedom: Jiva is Shiva, each individual is potentially divine. The more powerful we are . . . the richer the world is.
And living with soul, in the Yogic tradition, means that as we get used to experiencing life as our soul desires it, we are removed from the limits and confines of religion, science and also our social and cultural limiting beliefs and conditioned thoughts. True life freedom indeed.
The Yamas and Niyamas of Yoga are precious gifts, and there are five of each of these. They are the practices of self-controls that teach us how to wisely use our energies in living our daily lives . . . the Yamas clear our minds for wisdom and the Niyamas teach us a soulful approach to life, so that our soul energy can flow, bringing us vitality, and most importantly deep, soul-level, happiness.
The Yamas are like a cool spring breeze wafting through the fog of the mundane mind. They are guidelines to help us train our minds, reawakening consciousness and helping us to live to our full potential. And the Niyamas are 5 wise codes, guiding us in personal disciplines, with living principles, to use our energy soulfully for a deeply-fulfilled life.
So, the first 2 steps on Patanjali’s path – that path which will reawaken consciousness hidden in your memory – are about the way we think, having a “Mind Like Sky” and the way we act, when your “Soul Flows Sweetly”. The second step, the Niyamas, is about the codes for Purity, Contentment, Self-Discipline, Self-Study and Surrender to the Flow.
“How do I live with this in my Life?” would be the natural next step, the next question.
So here are the codes for personal disciplines, with my recommendations for daily practice, our Saddhana, and some inspirational quotations for your own contemplation to support your path to living soulfully with Yoga.
The energy of the Universe flows within our lives when we approach our energetic and physical bodies from a place of purity ….. it’s a practice of deep cleansing, purifying continually and a lot of letting go. Ultimately, Saucha allows the energy of the Universe to flow freely
How do I bring this into my daily life with Practice? The purifying practices of Yoga are stretching, breathing, awareness and sincerity in our daily Saddhana ….. And of course practice Forgiving on a daily basis: forgive everything that needs forgiving, especially yourself ….. again, and again and again.
Wherever you are is a sacred place. Joseph Campbell
A redirection of our energy, especially passions, from the material world to our subtle inner world . . . which allows natural contentment to arise in your being.
How do I bring this into my daily life with Practice? Cultivate equanimity and peace in your Yogasana practices. Practice the natural dispassion that comes from detachment, which we learn in meditation: withdrawal of the senses. And of course, the practice of visualisation in relaxation, or the conscious sleep of the Yogis ….
From contentment results unparalleled happiness. Patanjali
Tapas is a way of expressing the passion in your heart. It involves consciously commiting yourself to the aim of living with soul: allowing your soul to open and grow, experiencing life in your own individual path. It is about devotion; devote as much of your life to fanning the flames of your inner fire, and keeping the slow-burning flame within burning steadily (especially in the heart centre).
How do I bring this into my daily life with Practice? Daily practices in breathing and meditation: heart chakra breathing, meditation on the heart centre, visualising the slow-burning flame within and using Hridaya Mudra, the heart hand mudra. The practice of At-One-Ment in meditation: my own personal practice is to combine 2 meditations, the Universal Breath and the Universal Heart Chakra Meditation for the journey to experiencing the At-One-Ment.
(By the way this reminds me that one of my “gurus”, Einstein, found a way to see and think of the Universe as full of holes . . . anyone up for a bit of quantum-astro-cosmology?)
To see the Universe as it is, you must step beyond the net. It is not hard to do so, for the net is full of holes. Sri Nisargadatta
Sva means “self … belonging to me”. Adhyaya means “inquiring … examination of something to get close to it.” From a longing to understand comes self-knowledge. We get to know our complexities, our personal limitations and of course, our potentials.
How do I bring this into my daily life with Practice? Regular practice in contemplation: on a weekly basis works very well, and using journaling can bring a discipline to this practice. And of course, as much practice as you can in Yoga Nidra, deep relaxations, Savasana.
‘At the centre of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.’ Lao Tzu
Surrender to the Flow: Ishvara-Pranidhana
Taking shelter in the supreme – it’s a letting go, safety coming from trust and a joyful surrender.
How do I bring this into my daily life with Practice? Letting go, allowing joyful practice to support you in surrendering to a higher plan for the Universe . . . Practice walking meditations from an inner point of stillness: a wonderful way of letting go on a daily basis and enjoying the world around you.
“We will call out to each other in the darkness of the Great Forest, so that we may not be lost to one another. Then, like the innocent Forest People, for a moment we will live in a world created by a God so benevolent that, when there is trouble, we will know that He must be asleep. And, like the Hasidim, just when life is heaviest with pain and anguish, that is the time when we will dance and sing together to waken the sleeping God of our own lost hope.” Sheldon Kopp (on the challenge of making a life of significance and value.)
Susan Ni Rahilly is founder of suZenyoga: Spirituality, Understanding, Zen, Energy and Nutrition through dedication to Yoga. SuZenYoga’s Daily News is here: a round up of the day’s feed on Yoga, Meditation, Nutrition, Lifestyle and Health.