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The Eight Limbs of Yoga: An Introduction to the Niyamas


Hi everyone, and welcome to my blog! Last week, I created a post about the yamas, the first limb in the eight limbs of yoga. This week, I’m going to continue our theme by talking about the second limb of yoga, the niyamas.


Whilst our yamas are virtues or restraints, the niyamas are positive observances, that compliment the yamas and help us towards healthy living and spiritual enlightmement. Like the yamas, there are 5 niyamas altogether. They are as follows:


Shavca- Purity

Shavca refers not only to the purity of our mind and speech, but also refers to our physical cleanliness. Keeping your body healthy and filling it with good things, rather than things that will harm it. Purity is the highest respect for the body and mind. Of course, we all want to treat ourselves to something unhealthy occasionally, that‘s just human! But as long as we are not overdoing it, and practicing shavca as much as we can. In yoga the body is referred to as the vehicle of the soul, and we must keep this veichle healthy in order for it to run well.

Santosha- Contentment

Santosha is the greatest form of joy. Being content with what you have, rather than constantly desiring things that you don’t. One of the noble truths in Buddhism is that ‘desire is the route of all suffering’. Although this might sound harsh, it is very true. The less we desire, the less we suffer. Santosha is very hard to practice when we live in a society that is constantly telling us to want more, consume more. Being content within this type of society is very powerful. ‘Appreciate everything you have, even if it’s not everything you might want.’ The purest form of joy.

Tapas- Discipline

I used to think of discipline as a negative word. But ever since I started practicing yoga, I have realised that it is in fact a very positive word. It can have negative connotations for sure, but overall, discipline is a good thing. It takes discipline for us to get on our yoga mats and practice our postures. It takes discipline to meditate and help the mind not to wander. It takes discipline not to fall into traps that lead to suffering. With the right kind of self discipline, we can live our best lives.

Svadhyaya- Study

Whatever we do in life, we never stop learning. This is basically what Svadhyaya refers to. Always be on the lookout for opportunites to learn, especially in yoga. We are always yoga students first, even if we do go on to become yoga teachers. Study the world around you, your mind and your body. Keep learning new things about the peoole, places and energies all around you. We are all students of life, and as long as we are living, we are learning. This also refers to the study of books and texts which help you along your spiritual journey.

Ishvara pranidhana- Devotion

In a traditional sense, this means devotion to a higher power. You can connect this devotion to whatever higher power you believe in. If you do not believe in a higher power, you can simply devote your practice to life, or just a devotion to your practice. The practice of devotion brings all of the niyamas together.

I hope you have enjoyed this little read about the niyamas! Studying the eight limbs can really help us bring new light into our practice of yoga. I reading about the niyamas today has helped you dive a little deeper into your yoga practice. Stay tuned as I post every week, and I will be continuing to write about the eight limbs of yoga over the next few weeks!

Have a great day!

Becca, Yoga and Healing with Becca


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