Yoga Sutras: The Niyamas, Rules for Living
Last week we spoke about the the yoga sutras, Yamas, the laws of life. This week it’s about Niyamas, the rules of living.
Yoga sutras are part of an ancient Sanskrit dialogue from ancient India and although only partial translation of the ancient text has been done today, one things for certain. The ancient Indians knew what they were talking about it, when they wrote down the yoga sutras, Yamas and Niyamas of life.
It’s almost as if they predicted way back then what life would be like today, knowing we would need some sort of guide to bring us emotionally back to who we are, and who we are supposed to be. Learning to let go, and accept, especially within ourselves.
There is a saying often used in yoga mediation “purity of thought” reserved for after a class has come to an end and your hands are in prayer and held to the third eye, before quoting ‘namaste’ to end the practice. Though purity does come in many forms, like a non-toxic lifestyle with food and drink, you might say Saucha is a more of a reflection of purity in the mind instead. Dispelling toxic thoughts, feelings and emotions, and even removing yourself from toxic relationships and people.
Probably the most challenging thing in life is to find contentment in what you have already. We seldom remember to be thankful for the life that has been giving to us. Especially when you compare what you may have already around you, where others in war-torn countries have nothing at all. It could also be a reflection of being content with your own self as well, and not just related to possessions, a job or other luxuries.
Discipline comes in many forms. Ultimately when working on discipline, it works to build inner strength and control. Whether that be waking early in the morning to do a yoga, or cutting back on the extra coffee you have throughout the day. All decisions of discipline build resilience and control within yourself, as you learn to develop more self-control and strength on saying no more and remaining positive and strong in those choices – no matter what they reference to in life.
The concept of self-study is about observing the mind through mediation and daily mindfulness. Becoming more aware with your thoughts and developing the ability to determine whether thoughts are beneficial to you, or are they wasted too much of your energy. You could say, self-study is very similar to self-reflection. Where you reflect on your actions and towards not just other, but towards yourself as well.
Isvara Pranidhana: Surrender
You could say this is the most important Niyama as it reflects the idea of letting go. Letting go is often easier said than done and we are all guilty of holding onto things. Similar to the Yama of aparigraha; non-hoarding and non-attachment. Recognising that managing the outcome of a situation is almost impossible, and letting that go, reflects on the idea that although you can control your thoughts and actions, you can not control the thoughts and action of others. And at some stage, you need to let go of that control. Something we should all be practicing daily.