For me … fall has always been a time of learning … a time of assimilating the bits of knowledge that have bounced relentlessly against my cerebral cortex over the sweet summer months … a time of harnessing the energy that built up when the sun was so distractingly high that it was impossible to notice anything else. It is naturally a time of turning the focus inwards to see what has been bred in the petri dish of the deep subconscious that I have left largely untended while doing important summer things (like tanning, road-tripping, dancing, and rollerskating). I always seem to land on at least one thing that I want to delve into more deeply … a topic that needs to be researched or series of seemingly disjointed thoughts that need to be pulled together into a thesis that allows forward movement. This year, it is the yamas and the niyamas that are on my mind. In the sutras, Patanjali refers to the yamas and the niyamas as the first 2 practices of the 8 limbs of yoga. In fact they come even before asana (the physical practice). Loosely interpreted, they describe the “right” or “ethical” way to be in the world. The yamas include 5 things that we should not do (moral disciplines) and the niyamas include 5 things that we should do (observances).
As a yoga student of 10+ years and now a yoga teacher, I am starting to understand that the yamas and the niyamas are an important part of taking the yoga we practice on the mat into our day-to-day lives. So over the next little while, I’m going to look at these in a bit more depth to see what each means for me in a very specific (in-the-moment) way. Patanjali went through the trouble of cracking the code and passing on what he learned … I figure I might as well take advantage of that. And since I’m doing it anyway … I figure I might as well bring you guys along for the ride as well.
I don’t promise to do this in any logical / sequential way. I will probably just pick whichever yama or niyama appeals to me most whenever I sit down to write. It’s also quite possible that I’ll abandon this (for a while or permanently) before I get all 10 done, but we’ll see how it goes.
< insert super famous and popular quote for the cheap win 🙂 >
Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviour. Keep your behaviour positive because your behaviour becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
As an aside … it would be great if you shared your thoughts. Take the “yama / niyama challenge”. I know a lot of you stop by to read, but yoga is most effectively practiced in a community. It would help me hear what you make of it all. Remember … there truly isn’t any right or wrong interpretation. Patanjali was kind of just making this shit up as he went along. He admittedly didn’t have it nailed. He was piecing all of this together hundreds of years ago. So … please comment as you read. Let me know what you’re thinking. If you want a quick crash course, check out this link from the Ekhart Yoga site on the yamas and the niyamas.