Recently, we’ve taken a little journey through the first “limb” of yoga. The yamas are a set of restraints, or the ethics of empathy, and can help us understand what it means to live a yogic lifestyle, which is to say a joyful and well-lived life. To go deeper into that, we now begin looking at the second limb of yoga, the niyamas, the observances, or the ethics of self-care.
The niyamas can be thought of as Self-regulation. In the Yoga Sutra 2.33, Patanjali tells us that when disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite ones should be cultivated.
In her book, The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice, Deborah Adele says, “The yamas are like our personal GPS. They tell us when we are going in the wrong direction… they let us know when we are making a negative impact on the world and invite us to turn around and take a step towards harmony instead.”
She goes on to say “The niyamas, or observances are an invitation into radical exploration of possibility.” She tells us that we will never know how good we can feel and how joyful our lives ca be “…unless we consciously make choices to support this exploration.”
So, let’s explore possibility and rely on our personal GPS to keep us on the right track!
Next time, we begin with the first niyama, Saucha – cleanliness, clarity or purity.