Yoga philosophy time! If you’ve been keeping up with the Soul Strong blog, you might remember how we recently spoke about the yamas and niyamas. This week, we dive deeper into the niyamas! To refresh, yama and niyama are the first two limbs along the eight-limbed path of yoga. The 8 limbs come from the Yoga Sutras and are thought to be the path to enlightenment. If enlightenment doesn’t resonate with you, think of it as a path of self-betterment, of finding deeper union with yourself. Yama refers to broader-scope ethical practices, while niyama refers to personal practices. These first two limbs are meant to serve as the foundation for your yoga-inspired ethics and lifestyle. As the seasons change and we near the summer heat, taking a deeper look at what personal practices you’re holding close can set the stage for an easier transition. #Selfcare, y’all. The five niyamas are as follows:
-Tapas (Internal Heat)
-Ishvara Pranidhana (Surrender)
As you can see, the niyamas are super accessible! You can practice these concepts in your daily life, on and off the yoga mat! Sauca (cleanliness) can be practiced literally through your grooming habits and more philosophically by working with your mind to encourage positive thinking. Santosha (contentment) can be practiced by refraining from unnecessary purchases, or by cultivating a simple practice of gratitude. Tapas (internal heat) can be found by building up a sweat in your physical asana practice, or through practices that motivate and inspire your daily life, getting your internal flame going. Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender) can be letting someone pass you in traffic, a deep exhale at the end of the day, or letting go of attachment to certain outcomes.
At the heart of all of these, however, is Svadhyaya (self-study). Throughout each day, we come into contact with countless opportunities to learn more about ourselves. However, with each learning opportunity that arises, you have the choice to say yes or no to deepening your self-inquiry. Most of the time, it’s all too easy to move through the day in a reactive state, making judgments everywhere we go and going on autopilot in routine situations. So for this week’s assignment, I want to encourage you to find some time and space to pause. It doesn’t have to be in the form of a seated meditation session. The next time you’re in an interaction or experience that brings up strong emotions or reactions, the next time you find yourself late to work again, or when a repeated thought pattern arises, step back. Take a breath. Ask why. Get to know the contents of your daily life on a deeper level and let the learning begin. And remember, we’re all on this journey of self-inquiry together. Walk this incredible path with us!
Check out the links below for more on the Niyamas!