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Yamas & Niyamas

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

They are fundamental concepts for the practice of Yoga. And though for some they will already be known, it is always good to go over these concepts that make our practice richer and deeper.

Although Yoga has nothing to do with a religious practice, it is a spiritual path. This is why it is important to try to understand it from a comprehensive approach.

The Yamas and Niyamas are the first two steps of the style of yoga that we practice called "Ashtanga Yoga" which consists of a journey of 8 steps (Ashto = 8) and make up "the path of the eight steps for self-realization".

The rest of the eight links are:

  1. Yama

  2. Niyama

  3. Asana

  4. Pranayama

  5. Pratyahara

  6. Dhyana

  7. Dharana

  8. Samadhi

These eight links are mentioned within the Yoga Sutra of Patajanli, a classical yoga studio manual, written by Patanjali more than 1700 years ago. (If you would like to read the Yoga Sutras, you can find here the mention of an annotated edition that I recommend)

Patanjali is considered within the yogi world as the father of yoga, thanks to his important creation "Yoga Sutra". His discipline and teaching is today in force within modern society through the great variety of styles of yoga.


Yamas and Niyamas

They are the first two limbs and are essential to develop a true yogic vocation.

The Yamas refer to the 5 rules that a yogi must follow from his initiation :

  1. AHIMSA (do not cause harm or suffering)

  2. SATYA (do not lie to others or lie to ourselves)

  3. ASTEYA (do not steal)

  4. BRAHMACHARYA (not to be carried away by sexual pleasures)

  5. APARIGRAHA (do not accumulate -objects, wealth, - work detachment)

The Niyamas conform to 5 norms, but in this case it is us in relation to the community:

  1. SAUCHA (purity, physical cleanliness, also of emotions and thoughts)

  2. SANTOSHA (be positive and cultivate joy)

  3. TAPAS (practice with conviction and perseverance, leaving aside the accessory)

  4. SVADHYAYA (study of one's own body, study of sacred texts)

  5. ISHVARAPRANIDHANA (Through perseverance (tapas) and the study of sacred texts (svadhyaya), the practice of yoga leads us to realize that there is something that goes far beyond complicated postures, breathing or meditation. Through Isvarapranidhana, we learn to become aware that our actions give us the opportunity to live a spiritual experience according to each one's own convictions.

We could comment at length on each of these points, I will try to make an entry for each point and deepen into the ideas.

Know that you will find many and diverse interpretations and analyzes. We could dedicate hours to each of these concepts that refer to the part of the theoretical study and the philosophy of Yoga.

The important thing, I think, is to stay with the idea that our practice should not only be only physical. Everyone can have different intentions when approaching Yoga and it is very respectable, but it should be done knowing that if we take the practice as a simple physical training we will be missing, perhaps, the best that Yoga has to offer us.

I invite you to leave your comments below and perhaps share your reflections with others ... the exchange is always interesting!

Greetings to all,



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