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The Yamas & Niyamas

How we show up in our lives and in the world around us ~

So, what are we practicing? I mean, beyond the physical postures of yoga?

Well, on the 8 limb path asana, the physical part/ poses, does not come first. In fact it's how we act, live and show up in the world, and how we can cultivate these 5 qualities and 5 observances both on and off the mat in our day to day lives. I'm referring to the "Yamas" and "Niyamas", yogas' moral and ethical guidelines, they really form the foundation of our whole practice. Consider them to be like the 10 commandments of yoga.

We can think of those first two limbs as the roots and trunk on the big tree of all that yoga is. While there are many, many ways to practice yoga on and off the mat perhaps most importantly is how we are living our lives. Here's a little breakdown to ponder over.

The five yamas, self-regulating behaviors involving our interactions with other people and the world at large, include

  • Ahimsa: nonviolence (words are harmful, not just actions, this applies inwardly and outwardly)

  • Satya: truthfulness (not speaking badly or gossiping, honoring your own limitations)

  • Asteya: non-stealing (this includes energy, time and ideas)

  • Brahmacharya: non-excess (Moderation)

  • Aparigraha: non-possessiveness, non-greed. (I have enough I am enough)

The five niyamas, personal practices that relate to our inner world, include

  • Saucha: purity (cleaning up our act - and it ALL starts in the head)

  • Santosha: contentment (a personal responsibility to cultivate gratitude and joy daily)

  • Tapas: self-discipline (training your senses, practicing mindfulness, getting on the mat, cushion and doing our practice)

  • Svadhyaya: self-study, inner exploration (one of my favorites! Who better to get to know than yourself?!)

  • Ishvara Pranidhana: surrender (LET GO and let God/ The Serenity Prayer/ trust that the Universe has you)

May you continue to cultivate and nourish the roots of your practice both on and off the mat.

Aummmm, shanti, shanti, shanti


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