The 5 Niyamas are personal observances that allow us to see how we carry our energy inside.
Niyamas shed light (awareness) on the parts of our personality that we do often see clearly.
They offer us a way to see our own personal obstacles that come up and give us hope for resolve.
By using the Niyamas in our personal practices of meditation and yoga, we can observe the things about our self that we want to shift on an internal level.
Saucha – Purity, cleanliness.
As a physical practice, we can apply saucha as a way to practice purification of the body. Sweating and releasing and toning and stretching the body allows for our life force or prana to flow freely.
Saucha is also a means of observing mental and emotional fluctuations.
Cleanliness of mind and body, cheerfulness of the mind. Cleanliness of our personal and shared spaces.
Personal example – this one helps me become more aware of my behaviors, thoughts, and actions. Where can we refine and smooth out our edges physically? Where can we celebrate our uniqueness? When to negative thoughts arise and are they of service?
Santosha – Joy, Contentment
Finding ease and letting go of expectations.
Personal example – This one has been a game changer in my practice. I learned to slow down, pay closer attention, and practice with respect to my limitations and abilities. Lean into what feels good. Yoga will present some difficult experiences where we feel challenged, but it will also ask us to find the ease within it.
Find what feels good inside and out. It doesn’t mean we are incapable if we choose an action that is kinder to our body and mind.
Tapas – Dedication and Consistency
Building heat for means of purification. Fire. Discomfort.
Creating change on purpose. Intention. Purpose. Heating up the element of gold is a great example. You can heat gold, and transform it into a different shape.
This one teaches us that the quality and integrity of our movements is more important than the speed and range of motion in our body. Where do we get caught up in old patterns? When do we lose our motivation?
Personal example – For me, this one shows up when things don’t go as planned. Do I want to abandon all hope? Yes sometimes. But in my own way, I find the strength, creativity, and courage to find a way to move forward. Not allowing myself to feel defeated by the unexpected setbacks.
Svadhyaya – Self Study
The process of continually seeking the truth. Reading, learning, and inquiring about the self. Using introspection as a means of discovery. Curiosity about who we really are deep inside.
This one helps explain the experience we are having in our body through non-judgmental observation. We are learning about our self through yoga.
I love this quote for expressing svhadyaya – “Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” – Bhagavad Gita
This is what separates yoga from another type of physical exercise. Meditation, breath work, and physical movements are all combined to have a “whole body” experience.”
Here is another great quote to help us understand svhadyaya – “Be as interested in what’s going on inside of you as what’s happening outside of you.” –Ekhart Tolle
Personal example – I like to think of myself as a scientist in a lab. I am doing experiments with concepts and movements, and by being curious about my results, I practice self-inquiry. I accept the results no matter if they are good or bad. I accept and work with it all. I am brave enough to choose what is appropriate for me and my body.
One more great quote – “Yoga is skill in action” – Bhagavad Gita
Isvara Pranidhana – Surrender
Faith, sacred practice, finding peace within, destiny, higher power, intuition, divine self.
Traditionally the definitions in the sutras are connection and surrender to God, Universe, Great Spirit.
Personal example – This one taught me the importance of trusting my body and letting go of the need to control outcomes. I learned the importance of listening deeply to my body and trusting the inner wisdom, stories, and emotions that it holds. Surrendering to what is and having faith in the practice became a mantra.
A great quote by Pattabhi Jois – “Do your practice and all is coming.”
In the physical practice, when I feel over whelmed, I show up and remind myself “I will breathe.” The breath is your life force. It is what keeps you alive. The breath is a good example of divine within you.