Yama and Niyama are the ethical precepts set forth in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras as the first and second of the eight limbs of yoga. They are the foundation of Yoga practice without which no spiritual progress along the path of yoga can be made. Many people, myself included, have come to yoga initially as a physical exercise and only later begin to understand the profound spiritual effect it has on their lives. But to establish these spiritual effects firmly upon our mind, to embed them within our consciousness, they must be grounded on the bedrock of ethical behavior. Our practice begins with Yama and Niyama, and extends into Asana (the postures) and the other limbs of yoga.
There are 5 Yamas (Precepts of Social Discipline) and 5 Niyamas (Precepts of Individual Discipline).
Every week, I will introduce one Yama and then will continue to the Niyama. With that said let's begin:
Ahimsa : Non-violence. Not harming other people or other sentient beings. Not harming oneself. Not harming the environment. Tolerance even for that which we dislike. Not speaking that which, even though truthful, would injure others.
ABHYASA and VAIRAGYA go hand in hand. A few weeks ago, before I published my website, I quoted from one of my Sutra books: ABHYASA: Diligent, Focused Practice.
And now, this week I am coupling that practice with releasing attachments to the results of that particular practice. So here's a small quote to ponder on:
"The secret to happiness lies in the mind's release from worldly ties." -The Buddha
When practiced together, ABHYASA and VAIRAGYA, one can remain focused on one's practice without getting caught up in how the results will turn out. In Asana Practice this is important because the Pose is not the goal, but the practice of actions and intentions. Whatever comes out from that is a step toward perfection, but it is never perfect. So remaining detached on how one is supposed to feel and look after parcticing yoga is essential to a lightness in spirit thereafter and beyond.