Continuing about Niyama- Conscious Observances…

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The practice of Yama and Niyama creates a strong fortress of physical, mental and emotional purity for the seeker/practitioner.  If this purity is not created as a foundation, many complications can manifest later to obstruct one in their practice.  For example, as one progresses on the path and more power is accumulated, diversions/temptations may arise that can distract a seeker from a genuine experience, causing the loss of valuable time and energy, as well as getting lost.  Here are the five NiyamaConscious Observances: 

SauchaPurity.  An impurity is anything on the physical, mental or emotional level that obstructs our optimal functioning.  It is our impurities that stand between us and our highest realization  All the practices of Yoga are designed to remove these very impurities.  Some simple examples are the various cleansing regimens of hatha yoga that help purify the physical body and mantras that help cleanse the mind and emotions.  The more work a practitioner has  put into willful cleansing disciplines, the easier, swifter and more successful towards spontaneous development.

Santosha Contentment.  Santosha is the art of being happy with whatever life brings.  It is learning not to expect or desire more than one needs.

TapasTransformative Spiritual Practices.  Tapas creates the heat that purifies and strengthens our bodies and minds to make them fit vehicles for self-realization.

SvadhyayaSpiritual study.  This is not merely study in the usual sense, but a deep contemplation, digestion and integration of the deeper and often hidden essences contained in the Yogic scriptures.  It refers to an intensity of contemplation in which this deeper knowledge is revealed to the seeker from within themselves.

Ishvara Pranidhana dedication to Divine Energy.  Actual practices can include any type of devotional worship, singing of bhajans, repetition of mantras, etc.  These practices purify the heart and mind.  There is a deeper impact when using the original sanskrit for these chants, mantras, bhajans/songs.  The Yogi Scientists of long ago took the time to develop the sounds for the actual idea so that when uttered that same idea is created inside the cells, and this is why Sanskrit is today still so very valuable as a benefit.

This now completes the ten tenets for Yama and Niyama.  These are the first two rungs on the Ladder for Self-Realization on the Path of Classical Indian Hatha Yoga/Ashtanga.  Oftentimes we can see many who are accomplished at doing asana but have not come close towards compassion for their own spirit.    To not get lost in the physical body and to rise beyond via higher consciousness these ten steps must be explored and fully understood.  When we are on the path to Self -Realization it is a different and thorough process above and beyond mere exercise.  Do find a way to keep these Yama and Niyama close to you in your practice via Journal, or any other format that works best for you to re-visit important concepts for your personal development.  Shri Patanjali designed a complete course for us in Personal Development and Self-Realization that is a very Holistic psychology.  Namaste

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189 responses »

  1. After reading this article I found that the niyamas are methods of further refining yourself. They help prepare further inner recognition. I think of them as practices that will help me become the person I want to be. I’d like to incorporate them, along with the yamas, into my everyday life. These are great tools to help with how we should treat ourselves. I found this emotional advice so enlightening because these are things that we do know we should be doing, but don’t always. Being clean, dedicated, content, moral, and greatful are somethings that we should always try to bring into our daily attitudes.

    This week I have practiced the Isha Kriya 7 times so far. If I am capable I like to practice it twice a day, but I don’t always have that much time on my hands. I practice for about 15 minutes each time and typically use the video because it helps me stay focused on the exercise. I usually practice in my bed against my wall sometimes with a pillow against my back so that I use my tall posture to hold it steady. I’ve noticed that I’ve really improved over the weeks in seperating time for the isha kriya because I have found a great sense of realization and relaxtation everytime I do it that has been so healthy for my mind and inner conscious.

  2. In reading about Niyama and Yama being a sort of foundation of purity for the self, I found myself questioning if I had achieved certain parts of the five Niyama but have missed the step in creating a strong foundation. I feel that I am currently adhering to the ideas of several of these steps but I am not feeling compassion for my own spirit yet. I would like to further learn about these steps within yoga class and perhaps gold group discussions about how other people’s journeys are going.

    I feel that I am already following the ideas Sontosha brings, in that I do not expect more from life than I feel I deserve and that I only expect from others the same level of effort that I have put into a friendship.I think that I found the step of Svadhyaya most interesting, as it is a definition of the word study that I had rarely been told to do. Typically in scholarly work we are told to study, as in to read and re-read a text or body of work until we have memorized it. This definition seems to be more focused on achieving a personal sense of understanding and not one that involves reading from a book or something of the sort. Though of course one can implement other spiritual readings and texts into it, it seems to be more about taking what you have already learned and digesting it and making it something you can personally learn and grow from.

    A part of Niyama I feel I am lacking in is Ishvara Pranidhan. I have not yet explored devotional worship and I am not yet sure how that will work for me as I have had a difficult time in the past dedicating myself to devoting myself to worship.
    I feel that I am becoming lost in the psychical body and putting that before my mind. I tend to care for my psychical body before I care for my mind in all aspects and this has led to some issues with having to have to take several days to care for my mental health and to find inner peace. I very much enjoy learning about yoga and the steps and subjects that fall within it.

    • Michelle, you will not be asked to take up devotional worship in this class…other than devoting yourself to attending the class, doing your assignments…the journal posts are given to you to expand your awareness of the depths and possibilities of true classical hatha yoga. We all start on the Path and reach different parts at different times….Please do bring up your questions when we do the group sessions for chat, OM

  3. The Niyama practice seems like it will be a little bit difficult for me to follow. I struggle with my thoughts on a minute basis, and as Saucha says, I struggle with a lot of impurities in the mental, emotional, and physical sense of the word. I will admit that I hate being so negative, and I have tried many times to follow the Four Agreements, a self-help book, but have not been able to successfully follow the practice through to the end. However, I should say that I am willing and open to trying to follow the Niyama practice. I am enjoying yoga and the Isha Kriya, and do feel more free from negative thoughts, as well as closer to who I really am, and believe that, with more practice, I will successfully change my ways. Within the yoga practice, I feel that Saucha has made an appearance in the relaxation portion of the class, and every asana seems to get easier as I breathe out negative thoughts and inhale positivity, or at least that is how I see it.
    The breathing out of negative thoughts has led me into the second portion of the Niyama practice, Santosha. I have slowly begun the progression toward contentment with myself, with my body, and with what I can and cannot do. I have struggled with stretching myself too thin, or desiring something more than I have, and I agree and openly admit that it is unhealthy. I have never felt the positive feelings of being alone and content in the moment with what I have, and I am learning how to be content and happy with who I am at the current moment. However, as I hear you mention at times, I believe that I will be able to work toward a more spiritual identity, as I do not need to settle for who I am. There is always more I can learn and do, and in my opinion, I can say that Tapas moves its way into Santosha, as progression toward contentment purifies the mind for acceptance and strength in both the body and mind, that which I am looking forward to experiencing.
    At the end of the day, I believe that this practice follows closely the storyline of Khaled Hosseini’s novel, “A Thousand Splendid Suns.” Mariam and Leila, the principal characters, are brought to the realization that the power they searched for was within themselves the entire time. They reached the necessary step of Svadhyaya, and searching deep inside themselves contained within this oppressive culture. This, in turn, leads to a dedication to the divine energy in Ishvara Pranidhan in Mariam as she finds peace in sweeping the floor, or cooking, as well as playing with Aziza and singing her songs she learned from her mother before she passed away. She is sentenced to death and accepts peacefully as she finds the purification of her bitter heart in the repetition of her childhood with her niece. While I am not sure if this is the exact use of the Niyama practice, I see this very strongly in the novel, and I am looking forward to reaching acceptance and spirituality within myself.

    • Thanks for a well written essay, your references are insightful, your honesty refreshing….please know I think that you and each of us are perfect in this moment and nothing more is better than that….I support you as who you are and in the event you choose to develop other qualities I will support you in this quest as well….Namaste

  4. After reading and contemplating on both articles I can say that one of my biggest questions is, what are these “impurities” we refer to as keeping us from our optimal realization? Of course what we simply refer to as “good and bad” is subjective according to the culture and individual, so what is keeping us from purity or as it’s so beautifully put, “Saucha.” The word “impurity” has been used by many different groups and religions to describe some natural aspects of life such as menstruation, so I am a bit wary of the word when it is without an explanation to what it is referring to. But if we are referring to plainly diversions and temptations that lead us off the path to higher realization then I understand completely as to what these impurities are.

    I was unaware of who the scholar Shri Patanjali was up until now, but I am grateful to have been introduced to his tenets for the science of Hatha yoga (documented in the first article from the 26th). The five Yama or “Ethical practices” really stuck with me and gave me great insight into what I will be focusing on in my next Isha Kriya practice. While of course this is all in my personal opinion, I see the implementation of non-violence, truth, non-stealing, non-possessiveness and moderation into ones life as a multilayered practice into getting rid of ones selfishness; Because to participate in the opposite and go against any of these Yama tenets would be to feed ones inconsiderate and egocentric part of the self. Non of us are perfect and we will all fall into breaking one of these ethical practices in our life time, but to be aware of them and practice Hatha yoga will aid ourselves in not repeating the same mistake.

    Both the Yama and Niyama tenets remind me deeply of the practiced Buddhist tenets. While they are not exactly the same, and I understand that Hatha Yoga is not a religion, the two do share major similarities in their sets of beliefs. Buddhism believes that suffering comes from desire and wants, just as we mentioned “diversions and temptations” in regards to keeping us from Niyama in Hatha Yoga. Now in contrast, the Buddhist practice involves the Eight Fold Path, which highlights right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right concentration and right mindfulness. While some of these are in parallel to the teachings of Hatha Yoga and some are not, they all strive for the minimization of selfishness.

    I’ve practiced Isha Kriya less than I should have this week. I practiced three times due to being ill but after getting slightly better I realized practicing Isha Kriya during this time probably would have benefited me greatly if I had just pushed myself. I no longer need to follow the video because my roommates and I have memorized what is needed during the practice, but we usually keep the chart up just in case. When we started we would do fifteen minutes but are now working up towards a half hour to forty-five minutes. The only challenges have been that it is no longer warm enough for us to go outside and find a quiet area, so we’ve had to practice in our dorm, which can get quite noisy.

    • You have really seriously placed the yoga studies in the right context of your practices…your group IK practices are so powerful because you decided to amplify and keep the experience amongst those who you are living with. I am sure that this will only enhance all of your roommates relationship to one another and make for a wonderful living environment, this is quite rare and special! Namaste
      p.s. yes the impurities are cobwebs that get in our way along the way

  5. ~Isaiah

    All of the niyama struck me as very important notions, one that I found very tangibly helpful to me is Santosha. Santosha is the notion of contentment and being happy with what one has. I feel like we as humans are naturally great at adapting. And to an extent we could get rid of a lot of possessions that we have and still be very content after some adjustment. It seems that now a days no one is satisfied with what they have and they only seek to conquer more and gain possessions. At some point, I believe, these possessions only serve to distract us from what makes us truly and sustainably happy which may be different for different people but in general is not material wealth like some people think. I think if people took a step back and thought about what they really needed in this life that they would find they can stand to let a lot of things go in an effort to live more simply and happily.

  6. I admire the fact that the focus of Yama and Niyama is purity. I believe that a pure mind is a health one as it allows us to filter our thoughts while creating and nurturing new ones. This “foundation” also allows us to be our optimum selves which in turn, I believe, results in an enhanced and perhaps more gratifying experience.

    In order to experience Sauha, i feel I must first identify parts of my life which negatively impact my experience, or hold me back from optimal function. By first identifying these I feel I have a greater chance of allowing my experience with Sauha to be as beneficial and long term as possible. Santosha,for me, is a struggle. I always am waiting to pursue another opportunity, or another experience, and in doing so don’t allow myself to enjoy the present. Santosha is not only a goal, but a necessity for me if I am hoping to further my experience.. Svadhyava is something which I hope to be able to experience with more exposure to scriptures. Contemplation is an extremely exercised concept in my life, and I hope to be able to do so with Hatha yoga and the philosophy which supports it.

    In upcoming weeks I hope to approach Yama and Nizam with humility and the ten tenets in mind. Each tenant is relevant, however I feel that subjects such as purity, contentment, and Svadhayaya are especially going to be important for me to contemplate on and consider in my approach to practice and life.

  7. I found this text to be more helpful than the Yama in really understanding what the philosophy of Yoga entails. The Yama seems to be more of a way to control the morality of people who follow Yoga, but the Niyama seems to be ways to physically and mentally engage while doing Yoga practice. I’m going to try to think about the Niyama during class the week.

  8. Bouncing off of what we went over in the last post concerning the Tenets, we move on to the practice of Niyama. Balancing Yama, it helps to keep the practitioner mindful and conscious. It also helps the seeker obtain some sense of purity, as well as a firm, solid foundation. The five Niyama are broken down as such: Sucha, Santosha, Tapas, Svadhyaya, and Ishvara Pranidhan. What I noticed about the elements of Niyama is that they are far more complex than that of Yama in the definitions presented. Perhaps because they focus on consciousness, a never ending component of human nature. It is important to remember, though, that these tenets complement one another, with it making sense that one would be more complex than the other.
    We begin with purity, or Saucha. As individuals, we come across impurity on a daily basis. Whatever we allow to limit, destroy, or distract us from our higher purpose. As the article says, “All the practices of Yoga are designed to remove these very impurities,” and I agree with that sentiment. I think it’s important to remember that this does not suggest that we are unclean or dirty. I just serves as a reminder that we have many things that seep into our psyche, and those things do not define us as people. Next, Santosha, or the idea of contentment. This is a rather special notion to me, because it goes far deeper than being happy with material things or what is going on in the moment. I agree with the article’s explanation, “Santosha is the art of being happy with whatever life brings. It is learning not to expect or desire more than one needs.”
    The last three–Tapas, Svadhyaya, and Ishvara Pranidhan–deal more with spirituality. These Niyama hold themes of self-realization, contemplation, self-study. I would consider this to be on the higher end of the spectrum, which the conquering of the other seven tenets to be more achievable before attempting to tackle these. I do, however, believe that once I get to the point of being able to undertake these, I will be exploring a brand new state of consciousness and understanding.

  9. After reading about the practice of Rama and Niyama I began to make signs to place in my meditation area. Another way I made myself retain the information is by reciting them out loud before every morning meditation. All five of the Niyama practices I felt would personally enhance my spiritual being. This week I made sure I practiced Saucha by taking extra Yoga classes at the wellness center and taking the time to go to the sauna in order to rejuvenate my muscles when felt tense. To practice Ishvara Pranidhan I began to meditate at night to certain mantras depending on what I felt I lacked that day. For example, on Thursday my mantra was the word acceptance of where I have been and where I want to go. This was my chosen mantra because my 20th birthday was the following weekend.

    In the post it says ” Oftentimes we can see many who are accomplished at doing asana but have not come close towards compassion for their own spirit.” This sentence stuck with me because I lack compassion for what I have accomplished in terms of my self-realization and spiritual practice. Knowing that with time and dedication I will begin to know myself in ways I never thought was possible has refocused my practice.

  10. This article was very helpful. I am glad it breaks everything down for you and describes what each one means. These articles are always easy to read because of how they post the information in an easy to read and understand way.

  11. I am inspired after reading more about the Niyamas. After reading part one, I feel that I while I have better awareness and use of the Yamas, I really need to work on the Niyamas. I love what they represent and they are concepts that I don’t typically think about during my day to day life, but If I took time out to really consider them it would benefit me so much.

    Saucha is very important. Purifying our bodies mentally, physically and emotionally is something that is so important. Cleansing the mind of negative thoughts can alter perspective and allow for more open and productive thinking. Cleansing physically allows us to maintain a better, healthier body better for practicing yoga and maintaining great energy. Emotional purification can be difficult but can be so useful in handling stressful situations and improving how we think and react to them. Santosha is something that seems to far away for so many people these days. No one is content with what they have, and everyone is looking into their wallet or at their phone to find happiness. I am sympathetic and understand how easy it is to rely on money because we live in a society that revolves around it and does hold a lot of power over us. Phones are the optimal distraction and lead us to believe we are happy when in fact we are denying ourselves and avoiding the times where we could be content with doing nothing, or something else that doesn’t involve instant social gratification. Tapas, Svadhaya, and Ishvara Pranidhan focus on spiritual energy and deep inner focus as well as an understanding and deep interest in the knowledge of yoga and other spiritual practices.

    It is important that we focus on improving our behaviors, taking care of our bodies and energies and investing time into our minds to achieve peace and understanding through knowledge and contemplation.

  12. Reading about both Yama and Niyama has really altered my view of yoga as both a spiritual and physical practice. I have practiced Vinyasa flow yoga on and off since high school and was really paying more attention to the physical benefits and gaining flexibility. Since I have started practicing Hatha yoga, although I know I am at very beginning of my practice, I have felt a different experience on the mat. Even when I attend Vinyasa classes at the Wellness Center, I enter into a different mode during Shavasana. I also have noticed changes in my attitude, at work, in class, or just in daily life. To put it simply, I feel much more in control of my thoughts than ever before.

    I think the Niyama I have most improved upon, and have brought awareness to, is Santosha. Associating goals with happiness isn’t a true way to find fulfillment, focusing on the moment and being content with what you already have is a better way to live and appreciate the gift of life. This being said, I know I have a lot of growing and learning to do with each Niyama and I am excited to see where my practice takes me.

    Anneliese Treitmeier-McCarthy

  13. I think these ideas being presented in a list format is a helpful guideline for me to follow. I wonder how much the average person can actually diminish these impurities mentioned while still living an average life. Does completely eliminating these impurities result in enlightenment, and how achieveable is that for people who are not 100% dedicated to these practices? I like to think that these are goals you do not have to worry about completely achieving so long as you are following them to your best ability. I don’t know if anyone can be perfect, and I worry about the ideas of impurities resulting in self-deprecation in my life as I have tendencies to be impatient with myself. This is something im working on however, and I do think these guidelines will be helpful for me to think of on a day-to-day basis.

  14. As a learner I often get overwhelmed with a lot of information, so seeing the five different paths of Niyama laid out individually is very helpful. The passage mentions that the practices of Yama and Niyama help create a strong fortress of physical, emotional, and emotional purity. As I am practicing yoga, I feel my mind is not as hectic as it used to be. Its calmer, I have less headaches and I am able to destress or not become as stressed as I used to. Physical, my body feels more relaxed. I get a lot of back pain and it seems to go away or be less intense when I am prating yoga. Moreover, for the emotional aspect I don’t see a change, maybe it takes longer to see the results.

    I am trying to incorporate practicing Isha Kriya into a daily routine. I enjoy doing it, but sometimes I feel I have force myself to do it because it is a requirement. Furthermore, I am already seeing the results; I am calmer in the mind, my body feels relaxed, and I am slowly becoming myself.

    -Saida

  15. Saucha is incredibly important. One can chant the three jewels in buddhism in order to cleanse themselves of greed by reminding them of their commitment to the dhamma. It is incredibly hard to cleanse yourself of stress these days due to the ammount of visual stimuli be they phones, computers , video games, tv etc. One way is to unplug, which I do once a week on shabbat. Secondly, one can meditate, be it jhana or the isha kriya, which I find to have the same effect as calming and focusing oneself. Through accupressure, one can relieve themselves of physical pain, which is also an impurity as it can distract you. I find santosha to be interesting also as it seems to be linked with the elimination of dukkha. Both deal with overcoming impermanence.

  16. Reading this post and the post about Ashtanga has helped to deepen my knowledge about hatha yoga ideologies. I never knew about the five niyama observances before joining this class. I was a little hesitant when I read about saucha due to the use of the word “purity” because it is a word many people have taken and used very loosely to push their own agendas. Yet, when I continued to read about saucha and the other five observances it became clear to me that the message of niyama was to do the opposite. It seems that the niyama observances are tools to be used to access a greater sense of self-realization without being selfish. Santosha is a prime example of being able to connect with the world around you while still being able to connect with yourself and being content with what life brings you.

    In my future practices of yoga, I hope to open myself up more in order to experience svadhyaya. I know that continued practices of IK should help me to experience svadhyaya also. Due to reading about tapas, I now realize the importance of bundling up after class in order to keep the heat and energy inside the body in order to feel its benefits. The idea of losing yourself in the physical body is interesting to me. I never thought of the impact that impurities have on a person and their journey to higher realization. I often lose myself in my physical body, whether through illness or other stressors, and I’ve never identified that what I was doing was impacting my journey of self-consciousness. Through more practice of the physical and meditative aspects of hatha yoga, I hope to be able to identify the impurities and cleanse myself of them using the yama and niyama.

  17. This foundation of the Niyama is incredibly helpful in aiding a successful yoga practice. These tenets are not only to guide one through their own practice but to concentrate the mind and bring it home. I have found that these techniques for centering my practice has been very useful. During the Isha Kriya I repeat the line “I am not the body, I am not the mind”, this simple statement has completely changed the way I think about yoga and meditation. This statement in combination with the parts of the Niyama will further aid for a successful practice. Specifically the concept of Tapas is fascinating to me. To me it is preparing the body and mind for the process of self revelation. In this way it is an essential process for listening to the body during a session of yoga. Additionally the process of Santosha is totally in line with our last reading by John McAvee. It is so difficult to find contentment and learn to not expect or desire more than one needs. Our lives are so reliant on the newest and the fastest technology, often it is incredibly hard to say ‘no I don’t need this, I want this item’’ what Santosha does is being happy in the state that you’re in. By doing this one can focus on their breath and not on the outside desires and distraction of everyday life.

    I have found through my experiences with this structure, these instructions is very helpful. The more I actively participate in my practice the more I start to think about these steps, for slowing down the mind and listening. I got much more distracted before and now while doing the Isha Kriya I can truly focus on my breath.

  18. As I have mentioned, I have been practicing the physical side of yoga for many years. While I have a strong concept of the asanas, I have never quite attained the same with the other limbs of yoga. I appreciate the fact that one should begin with the yamas and niyamas. It makes total sense now that I have read through some of this material. A sense of who you are and a full self-reflection practice can only enhance the asanas, as well as the following limbs.

    I do feel a little lost as far as how to begin this self-reflection process. Do we take the niyamas literally or is it more of a general guideline? The niyamas do seem a little more difficult for me that the yamas, they seem a little more straightforward. Perhaps that is why I always concentrated on the physical portion of yoga, it is easier and does not require as much contemplation. I did find a website, http://www.yogajournal.com, that provides an asana, mudra and mantra for eacy of the niyamas. I think this will be beneficial for me, as it is more of a guided practice (which I think I need). I feel like I am starting over with this hatha yoga practice, developing my own strong fortress, this foundational base, which will help my overall yoga practice.

    • The tenets of Ashtanga are being shared so that Practitioners know the process for full yogic development. Know that you will not be tested on these principles, however, it may serve useful for your own reflective times and times when you choose to research and read more about classical hatha yoga if you want to fully evolve the yogic way, Namaste

  19. I have never been exposed to things like this before and every week my mind is being opened more and more. It was interesting to learn about the practice of Yama and Niyama and I find myself being more aware of them in my own practices. The two conscious observances that have come up most for me is Saucha and Santosha. Saucha is purity and it focuses on removing impurities in your physical and mental. Recently I feel like my mind has been crowded with insecurities about things that I have come to realize should not matter. It has been my focus lately to extinguish these thoughts and find ways to cleanse my mind with one way being my Isha Kria practice. Santosha is contentment with being happy with whatever life brings. Sometimes it is hard to not constantly compare yourself to the world and it has also been my focus to be content is myself and who I am.
    -Emily Bockisch

  20. There are always steps must take to prepare themselves for a difference in living choices, one cannot just go into a different practice than previously used to and expect the body and/or mind to simply just accept it. I believe humans are beings of habit, new things feel different and uncomfortable because of this, so this, seeming to be a tool to clean our spiritual, mental and physical palates, is very important, one cannot fill a cup that is already full, so these necessary steps I completely agree with. The only question I have, specifically wishing for further explanation, is directed towards the second tenet. Is this to mean that I need not work to achieve greater goals for myself, and to instead do what is necessary for me to live, and be thankful for being granted those attributes of necessary living?

  21. The five Niyama practices listed helps me to understand the practice of Hatha yoga slightly better. I understand in my practice of Hatha yoga there is less interest with the physical aspects of the positions than there is with the spiritual and mindful practice. These five conscious observances will obviously help in the practice of yoga, however I think they are applicable to situation off of the mat as well. I think mindfulness should be carried with you throughout the day and I think these observances will be helpful with that.

    Santosha was the Niyama that I connected with most intensely and would like to improve upon more. I think this aspect of finding contentedness in the present, regardless of whether or not it is exactly where you want to be, is essential to happiness itself. Learning to not expect or desire more than what you have is exceptionally hard in contemporary society. We constantly see excess around us. This is the Niyama I would like to improve upon most in my practice of Isha Kriya and Hatha Yoga.

  22. Unfortunately, this post is very difficult for me to apply constructively to my life. The Tapas, Svadhyaya, and Ishvara Prandihan all concern spiritual attainment, and I do not believe in a spirit separate from our minds/bodies. Apart from the religious components, I have some apprehension about the ideals of purity and contentment. Purity, in a Hindu sense, has always vexed me. It took me a long time to realize that my family in India aren’t vegetarians because of any sort of compassion for animals, and why drivers never wanted to eat at the same table as my family, or why certain people weren’t allowed inside my grandparents’ house. This is all in the name of purity. In Hinduism, purity is synonymous with caste. As for contentment, I don’t have the same reflexive distrust of the word, but I do feel that acceptance would be a better term, for me. Complete contentment means an utter stillness that I can’t help but perceive as stagnation. I would like to accept reality without losing the hope that things could be better, and I can help actualize that progress.

  23. I found this post notably interesting because it reminds me of some of the foundational beliefs in other spiritual practices. I’ve been turning more to spirituality and the religious ideals I was brought up with lately to aid in a change of pace for my self care and personal growth. I saw this connection most with Ishvara Pranidha, because it refers to the practices and devotion that must truly be acted upon with intention to fully gain an understanding. As a singer, I personally enjoy singing as a form of worship for God/the universe/whatever you identify with because it is a way to vocalize my gratitude with this energy and gain a deeper appreciation. Similarly, I was most interested by Santosha because it is something I am learning to get better at in my day to day life. I have a hard time letting things be or go, and disappointment comes from the fallen expectations of what we assume we need to be “happy,” not trusting in the bigger plan for our lives. Namaste.

  24. Reading about Yama and Niyama gives me a deeper understanding of our yoga practices. Yoga is such a beautiful spiritual practice and I enjoy learning about the deeper levels of yoga.This all carries onto having a deeper understanding of one’s self and an understanding of the spiritual balances of life. This, I find so beautiful and inspiring.

  25. The practice of yoga (Yama and Niyama) purify the physical, mental and emotional to get to self-realization. The one I thought was the most interesting one is the Santosha, which means contentment, and I could relate to it in so many ways. When I eat I usually want all of it and I will probably not eat all of it, when I shop I get stuff that I don’t need, etc, I desire more than what I need. When I saw this in the reading, it shocked me to see that such a normal thing for me is actually not good.
    While practicing the IK I do feel like I am getting closer to the goal, little by little I am cleaning myself of impurities and I know it will take time. I said in class that it is hard for me to let go of things or people that are not good for me or unnecessary. By practicing the IK I got more relaxed, I thought more and slowly but surely I am getting better at this letting go problem I have. purifying the physical, mental and emotional is very important in order to be a happy healthy person, which is why I started doing Yoga, to begin with.

  26. The impurities I face on a daily is my ability to distract myself so easily. I feel like if you take Yoga as a practice and something you do as a routine, you can lear how to remove the impurities from your body. Santosha is everything I always aspired to do. I let everything affect me before and let everything get a reaction out of me. Now, I don’t because I’ve practiced how to let the negative vibes out of your body because that stunts your growth.

  27. These are really steps to discover the nature of somebody. It seems like without Yama and Niyama there is no happiness. Without a code for moral and spiritual values, there is just only chaos in life. A life of wholesome thoughts, study, discipline and exercise, can and will take us to the goal of self-realisation and and self-concentration. After reading this, I think people would be more inclined to devote themselves to study spiritual discipline, and also to improve their health so that I can be a better person. That’s really how I see yoga, I see it as some time out of your day to relax, concentrate and improve themselves internally.
    In comparison to my life, I feel as if this would be great to follow but sometimes it’s not that easy to follow such a pure path living life. As things go wrong, frustration and stress builds up and leads to me saying or doing things that the yogic culture. But I guess this is all apart of the process of taking this yoga class. Relaxing your mind and body to become something new.

    • Your writing is evolving into an essay format, remember in the future to fully review the topic and then add comparitive information (list your references) and include details about your own impressions/experiences to earn the best grades.

  28. The fact that the practices of Yama and Niyama create a strength within our physical, mental and emotional purity is amazing. The concept of not having this purity made as the foundation makes sense because a distraction can easily influence the balance you create if it is not strong enough. This idea is the difficulty many individuals my age face because we are a generation run by the internet. The internet and media play as the distraction in a majority of people’s life. All five of the Niyama seem necessary to have a beneficial yoga practice session they all connect to the balancement that is worked to develop. These also connect to the mindset that is needed for IK, to be able to become in peace internally. Personally, I believe I lack most of the observances but I am working on them each to create my own foundation. The observance of Santosha is difficult for me but I have learned to not over expect anything and just be happy with the small blessings I fail to acknowledge at certain times. Another observance that I have not come in contact with is Svadhyaya, I have not been able to get deeper within myself to study my spirituality and who as I am. I plan to come in closer contact with each of these especially for my practice of IK and yoga.

  29. My frist encounter with the practice of Yama and Niyama was during a meditation class I took sometime ago. Because of this it is familiar yet, it is not something I have carried and put into practice in its entirety. The only aspect of this practice I can say I have implemented in my life since I was a child is Santosha. Being raised in a close knit family with a deep connection to the ocean, this is something I heard and observed a lot as a child. I grew up in the Caribbean with a sea captain uncle, and while it is not something directly related to this there is a similarity between the nautical culture I experienced growing up and this practice. I used to think of the sound of ocean waves as a chant the earth provided to cleanse the mind of distractions. Not only that , the only pure contentment I’ve observed is by the seaside with people whose deep appreciation for the ocean and all it’s life defines how they exist on this earth. I learned from these people and from the ocean to be content and grateful with how my life is because at any given moment things can, and will in fact change and there is no need to waste valuable energy in being upset.

  30. Through the information on each of the five “Niyama” (Conscious Observances), I felt it was immensely insightful and are practices that many people should act upon, mainly for the reason being the stress we all endure within our daily lives. For 1000’s of years, humans alike have shrouded themselves in the spiritual practices of yoga and it seems that these forms or relaxation today continue to be utilized and performed. As their are a variety of different distinct experiences within the world of yoga/meditation, each and every method of these spiritual/internal connections have shaped news ways of tranquility and peace.
    While I was observing and analyzing the effects and impacts it has on the practicioner, there were personally some in particular that struck a chord of interest within me. “Santosha” (or known as one’s contenment/satisfaction), this practice is “the art of being happy with whatever life brings. It is learning not to expect or desire more than what one needs”. When acting out with “true” kindness, any individual should be aware of not expecting anything in return (except for things such as that of gratitude, positive energy and the utilization of love/respect).
    Along with the practice of the Santosha, the practice known by the name of “Saucha” has impacted and altered the way people think of themselves and others (into a stronger aspect of positivity). This universal idea of “Purity and Cleanliness” has shaped/supported the over-arching factor of a human’s spiritual connection to their own being. “Some simple examples are the various cleansing regimens of hatha yoga that help purify the physical body and mantras that help cleanse the mind and emotions”.

  31. I find this posting to be very interesting. It basically reminds me of other spiritual well-beings with other cultures. As an individual who suffer from being stressed a lot I feel as though the purity part will help me heal my body and soul. As I do the IK each week I feel that the toxins that lived in my body is slowing leaving and I’m slowly gaining power over my body again.

    • Examples of things you could have included to develop this into an essay include, review of the topics, listing which other cultures you mentioned in your second sentence with explanation and more detail about what you notice about your IK practice.

  32. After reading this article on Niyama continued in conjunction with listening to the “Secret of the Yamas”, I feel as though I have a much better grasp on the mindset that will help me to accomplish some level of Self Realization and spiritual awareness. In “Listening to the Secret of the Yamas”, I was introduced to all the exterior stressors which obstruct an individual from their path to self discovery such as the perceived need for constant company and constant outer stimulation. These acts become a placeholder for self exploration.
    In this article, however, I learned of five concepts that are key in the search for self and a more balanced and natural life. For me, the Santosha and Svadhyaya are intriguing and difficult things to overcome, Santosha especially for me personally. The Santosha is happiness with what one already has and not having desire for anything more. This is a hard objective for me to overcome because there is so much I long to see and do rather than just allow for what is and let my path lead my way. Yet it is a challenge that should be met on the road of inner contemplation and one that I must confront. As for the Svadyaya, I completely agree with the idea that deep contemplation will lead to self realization subconsciously. It is an amazing tool to become more intimately self away of oneself.
    To me, these Niyama principles are a great set of guidelines that remind us to keep heading on our own individual paths to discovering who we truly are. We are reminded of all the exterior forces that threaten to throw us off course, but we are left with ways of thinking that give us a chance to ward off these outside stressors. I feel as though these new viewpoints can and will help me to unblock my path and continue on my own journey to find myself.

  33. This has been one of the best readings so far that have really helped me find myself more feeling more happily than most times. Before this reading or doing the Isha Kriya, I think I felt more almost scared of having me-time and secluding myself with my thoughts and relax because it was hard to without having my thoughts overwhelm me. Although with the Isha Kriya and this reading about the Yama and Niyama have changed my mindset on focusing on positively finding my true self. What I keep for myself to think is that these steps will make me feel free and in liberty to feel relax when I am stressed or sad, and will over time shape me into the person I want to be in the future.
    My take on the Yama and Niyama is that it makes a strong system to find purity in yourself, because you need all ten tenets to make it work because each tenet has an importance. Although, I was a bit confused on the Tapas section just because, I was not sure exactly what that meant for it to create heat to strengthen and purify the body. And I looked it up and according to yoga journal.com it means to “burn” or to “fiery discipline” in other words have an intense commitment to have a positive mind in yoga.
    Purity is important to have in an ideal daily life of one-self but is often blocked from negative things in life like stress or depression. Without it, it is even harder to find a life filled with joy and positivity.

  34. After listening to the audio, “Secret of the Yamas”, I can better appreciate the importance of self discovery. I am new to yoga so I was not sure where to start and what to expect on this journey. The article, “Continuing about Niyama-Conscious Observances…” was very informative because it  provided explanations on the five Niyama which are necessary in our quest for self discovery.  Saucha which is purity provides a solid foundation for physical, mental, and emotional well being. Without complete purity, distractions can arise, deterring one from progress and even forcing one towards negative progress. As I have continued to practice Isha Kriya, I have become more aware of what distracts me and have worked on eliminating distractions when I practice yoga.

    Santosha is contentment, being happy with what one has and desiring no more than what is needed to survive. This makes life less stressful and happier because a person learns that what matters is the inner self. It also takes time away from worrying and moping, allowing more time for self discovery. In society today, advertisers and big businesses encourage excess and make us desire much more than what we need. Consequently, people are unhappy and left unsatisfied. I am very open to the idea of Santosha and hope to fully embrace it. A happy life is focused on experiences and people, not material goods. I have so much to be thankful for-food, clothes and a loving family.

    Tapas is a way of “burning” away impurities. Heat can be generated physically or by attitude. Physically, yoga practices allow us to focus on our inner self and clear the mind. Regarding attitude, “heat” is generated by rejecting the status quo and refusing to take the easy way out. Rather than settle, tapas is doing the best one can which implies changing the way one does something. I hope to practice tapas more and more in my life. I feel like it is a very rewarding experience which can make a person feel good about themselves. Doing something thoroughly encourages one to keep working hard and creates a positive mindset. Happiness with ones actions then leads to stronger will power and determination. This physical perseverance corresponds with mental strength and can make it easier to resist distractions and temptations.

    Svadhyaya is spiritual study, different from the studying most are accustomed to. This is inward study of one’s self. Through this, one identifies the purposes behind actions, the cause of emotions, habits, and ways of thinking. A person then can discover why they do things, and how they could be harming themselves with bad habits or thoughts. By understanding our inner selves, we can then take actions to fix destructive behavior. We can adopt better habits and drop those which are not beneficial. Studying oneself can be daunting, as we are uncomfortable with facing flaws. However, I am eager to learn about who I truly am. This discovery will allow me to become more aware of how I may be hurting myself or others, and will enable me to fix these things.

    The fifth tenant of Niyama, Ishvara Pranidan is dedication to divine energy. This does not mean being religious, rather it can be singing or repetition of personal mantras to purify the mind and heart. It means accepting the way the world works and trusting that things will work out. It is accepting that the world is big, and that one person is insignificant. This seems the most difficult of the tenants because in a sometimes a harsh world, it can be difficult to trust that things will end up fine. However, it is relieving because it alleviates worry. Once one realizes that s/he is merely a small speck in the humungous scheme of things, mistakes and failure do not seem as earth-shattering. Ishvara Pranidan makes it much easier to move on after disappointment.

  35. Being completely honest my reasoning for being in yoga is for its physical side, expanding my bodies flexibility and control. This does not necessarily mean I am not open to the mental and spiritual aspects of yoga, but rather I am unsure about them. The five Niyama seam a little vague and idealistic. I’m not sure how useful or achievable they will be in our society, mainly Saucha (purity) and Santosha (contentment)
    The major one and most vague is Saucha which calls for the removal of impurities. This sounds simple, but it never clearly defines qualifies as impurities. I would also like a more detail explanation of how hatha yoga will be able to remove these impurities. It is a similar problem with Santosha, giving no real way to achieve contentment. Which I believe is extremely hard to do, and even if achieved could bring negative effects. Although I agree it is unhealthy to be overly discontent, there’s a reason for our innate wanting for more, A drive to push ourselves further and achieve our goals.
    The most interesting of the five Niyama is Ishvara Pranidhan. Not for its devotional worship but for the last part. ”The Yogi Scientists of long ago took the time to develop the sounds for the actual idea so that when uttered that same idea is created inside the cells, and this is why Sanskrit is today still so very valuable as a benefit.” This concept isn’t something that I am completely unfamiliar with, but I am very interested in learning how this works.
    Despite my concerns, I will try to follow the Niyama while in this course, in order to gain the full benefit of hatha yoga. I realize I am just beginning this journey and hopefully, I will gain a better understanding of this as I continue the practices. I realized I may be misinterpreting some things, as I said I found them vague, I must state I am not rejecting the teaching, just questioning some aspects.

    • Your questions and doubts are valid and unfortunate that our current society/education doesn’t present these concepts for self development. You may like to re-visit these concepts in the near and distant future as you choose to work on your own self devlopment. Keep reviewing your questions…..Namaste

  36. This kind of ideas and practices are fairly new to me, I never really heard of anything like this. I am glad I read up on this because learning about Yama and niyama made me realize how much more self aware I should be. I feel like the foundations of these practices will help me to concentrate more deeply and aid in the growth of my yoga journey. Tapas seems to be a way to help and prepare the body to relax and give it time to become aware of itself. Saucha seems to be a vital part as well because cleansing and purifying our mind and body can lead to positive revelations. This can lead to a more positive and opened mind therefore positively impacting ones yoga practice. I would like to incorporate these methods to my everyday life to help me with deepening my self love/care and self revelations. In a way I have began to put forward some of the methods and practices we have talked about such as the 8 limbs, it had helped me as I keep on practicing the Isha kriya. I am more able to concentrate on my breathing and deepening my concentration during meditation.

  37. Reading about the practices of Yama and Niyama, I was interested in how they relate to purity within a person. Of course, I am familiar to the term “purity” and the lack of it can lead to corruption in one way or another. But when it comes to getting rid of impurities, I tend to think about physical impurities, even though I understand that mental and emotional impurities also exist. It is interesting how Yama and Niyama play a part in creating a foundation of purity. Personally, I do not believe that purity is gained, but also that impurities can easily outweigh the purity of the body.
    As a foundation, it is important not just to build that purity, but also to maintain it and resist any temptations that would lead down the wrong path in achieving true peace. A person must make an effort to follow Yama and Niyama if they truly want purity not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. The practices involved in yoga and meditation can aid in ridding oneself of some of the impurities. But getting rid of impurities also means acknowledging those impurities. Keeping the practices of Yama and Niyama in mind will help achieve some level of inner peace.

  38. The practice of Niyama and the Conscious Observances seems to be healthy options to help you prepare your inner recognition. I think each Niyama has an important step and doing them in your actual practice would only be beneficial and have a deeper impact on tapping into your higher conscious. The practice wants you to be physically strong but also emotionally and mentally intelligent with the Svadhyaya and Ishvara Pranidhana steps. The Svadhyaya step, wants the person to form their practice off of the deeper knowledge of yogic scriptures which I think is a great stepping stone for a stronger mental purity. The Ishvara Pranidhana step makes the person do repetition of mantras which will create a mental note for remembering and to cleanse yourself emotionally and mentally.
    I’m excited to exercise the five Niyama into my own yoga practice and learn more to help me become stronger with my puritys. I want to embody these steps to create a successful development and bring further knowledge and happiness to my life.

  39. When I first started reading about both Yama and Niyama I had a hard time trying to find where the two intersect. Then, I went back over last week’s assignment and recalled that they were both the first two steps of the eight limbs. I decided to read the article from July 26th titled “About the Practice of Yama and Niyama” to better understand the first step, Yama. I believe that after having a deeper understanding of this step, I was able to build a mental bridge and better understand Niyama. Yama is the ethical practices we keep every day while Niyama is the conscious observances.

    In my personal experiences, the two different groups of practices tend to go hand in hand. For example, by being non-violent, truthful, not stealing, not possessive, and practicing moderation, it is much easier to live a pure, content life. I find that by following one part, the person is strengthening the other. The one part of Niyama that I struggle with most is what exactly Svadhyaya is. I struggle to see what deeper knowledge exactly means within this spiritual study. I am a spiritually ambiguous person, but I am unsure how a person could implement this portion of Niyama into their life. Is there a clear way this can be practiced? Or does this part of the observances come organically? Furthermore, how may one know that this is happening?

    • All excellent questions….your resolve to delve deeper into the information from the assignments is serving you well with deepening your undestanding ​and questions. Once we open the door to these questions it really is a matter to keep them in the forefront of our thoughts, or on our bulletin boards to re-visit regularly. When we spend time doing this we continue to grow in amazing ways. Namaste

  40. This kind of reminds me of that one post we read last weak about the 8 limbs of yoga because that talked about the different things you do while practicing yoga like meditation and deep breathing and these ones are sort of about the things that a person can accomplish from doing yoga like getting rid of impurities and finding contentment. I think it’s useful to see a list like this because it gives me ideas of some of the things I should focus on. I also looked up Niyama on google to try and find out a little more about it and I think it seems neat that a whole bunch of people have talked about this type of thing for a long time and said it is important for healthy living.

  41. I am very much enjoying this process of learning so much about yoga, I was hardly aware of the 8 limbs, and now that it is being brought more to my attention and being reinforced, my awareness is only growing stronger. These 5 niyamas are extremely sacred, although only a few of them resinate with me at the moment I do strive to embody all 5 of them. Actually, I feel I truly embody them all, but some are more awakened than the others. The ones I feel I embody the most at this time are, Svandhyaya and Ishvara Pranidham, while Saucha, Sentosha, Tapas I am working towards strengthening. I do feel though that I am dedicated towards working on all of them because they are all equally important and without one the whole system sort of begins to fall apart and the real meaning is lost. Thank you for the knowledge that I am receiving.

  42. It is both interesting and Pleasing to see that these forms of yoga have been flushed out so well. These technics to ensure that one does not lose are get lost while practicing help me, personally. By allowing me to verbalize what it is I have to do. Having the proper langue to archive a goal, is outstanding. Not knowing what to do is often times the majority of the struggle. Take “Svadhyaya – Spiritual study. This is not merely study in the usual sense, but a deep contemplation, digestion and integration of the deeper and often hidden essences contained in the Yogic scriptures. It refers to an intensity of contemplation in which this deeper knowledge is revealed to the seeker from within themselves.” this is a prime example of what I need Verbally to better focus and maintain calm deminer. It relives a lot of the stress about possibly getting lost. Very Helpful.

  43. So often do we create for ourselves some idea of what is “pure” and for each individual, unguided and instinctual, they may unmake themselves in the name of either finding or erasing it. Only through conscious observation can one take the first step toward finding what lets one reach Santosha with their self, and what ever that self may face. The Tapas challenges the self to discover what it truly is, what made it that way and how it will go on through its existence being such a self. Through Svadhyaya, the mind is tasked with learning more than it even believes there is to be learned, and in doing so, deconstruct all aspects of reality in this universe, from social establishments to things as menial as physical ones like domestic spaces. The Ishvara Pranidhan asks one to further develop ones process of thinking, to ask questions about how they form ideas they consider their own, and how they bring those ideas forth into the surrounding world. Self-realization truly is downplayed within modern society, considered second to “self-improvement” and the envy of others. “Purity”(true purity) is ascertained through self-reflection and ultimately self-realization, which are the blossom of a seed sewn through the conscious observations we are asked to make by the Niyama.

  44. I misunderstood Tapas when I first read about it. Since the description is brief, I dug a bit and came across a lengthy description on http://www.eckhartyoga.com in which Emma Newlyn explains the Niyamas. She calls Tapas “an aspect of inner wisdom that encourages us to practice even when we don’t feel like it, even though we know how good it makes us feel! It’s that fiery passion that makes us get up and do our practice for the love of it..It’s important to make sure we’re acting from a place of positivity and love, and not from fear.”

    That really struck a chord with me because I often feel like I go against what I know is right for me, particularly the inner voice that says: “it’s morning, time to begin a fresh day.” Instead of getting up to face a beautiful new day, I go back to bed out of fear for what is to come.

    The instruction to act from a place of love is reminiscent of the main concept in a book I read recently: Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch. You can take this book for truth or as a work or philosophy which is how I see it. A very prominent theme in the Book 1 is the idea that love and fear are the sponsoring thoughts for all thought: “Every human thought, and every human action, is based in either love or fear. There is no other human motivation, and all other ideas are but derivates of these two…Think on this deeply and you will see that it is true. This is what I have called the Sponsoring Thought…It is the raw energy that drives human experience.”

    After reading this I realized how true this statement is. When I don’t want to do something, it is because I fear doing it or fear the consequences or fear the future (it could be any number of fears connected to it). Understanding this, knowing the sponsoring thought, has released me from many negative emotions. It has even made my relationships better.

    To get back to Tapas, the revelation that this could be the part of the path connected to what I struggle with most and the applications of consciously applying my sponsoring thought of love drew me to it. After developing an awareness of Tapas and thinking this through, I have had many days in a row of waking up early before my alarm and getting right up out of bed without a second thought. Wow!

  45. When I began reading, I immediately thought of mind, body and spirit, because of past mediation experiences, I have always thought to keep them aligned. Saucha or purity I read as a very important step and maybe as the foundation for someone practicing yoga. Once you are able to rid yourself of certain distractions you can focus on what you need to.I think once you practice Saucha you can begin Santosha. This a form of ridding yourself of desire also called contentment, becoming a happier person. Tapas is both physical and mental and is referred to as transformative spiritual practices. This creates heat when we practice and keeps us healthy and prepares us of self realization. This is very important as I believe self awareness is one of the most powerful skills to posses. Svadhyaya or spiritual study I thought of meditation as I was reading it. Sitting and deeply assessing the self. Ishvara Pranidhan or a dedication to divine energy,this one I found very interesting that the yogi scientists created a chant that would form the same ideas in cells many years later. That just goes to show how powerful this type energy connection can be.

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