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December 4th, 2013

10 Old Ways To Create A New Sense Of Freedom

By Manduka Ambassador Brian Hyman

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali were compiled thousands of years ago as a collection of 196 teachings about yoga. The Sutras are divided into four sections: Contemplation, Practice, Accomplishments, and Absoluteness. Within the Practice portion of this revered yogic text, the yamas and niyamas are discussed.

Yamas are moral instructions; niyamas are self-disciplines. When these 10 timeless lessons are combined and observed, a path toward inner and outer transformation is forged. When the yamas and niyamas are practiced with sincerity, illumination is the reward.

The following interpretations of the yamas and niyamas are drawn from my personal experience as a yoga teacher and student. I have practiced them to the best of my ability in all areas of my life for many years. This has been a path of spiritual progress, rather than spiritual perfection. Fortunately, there is no right or wrong way to practice these ethical precepts and personal observances.

Let us look now at these ancient guidelines as a present-day roadmap to joy, happiness, and freedom. Let us pick up these spiritual tools laid out at our feet and use them to create a gateway to peace. And let us practice these principles in all of our affairs to find balance, serenity, and overall well-being in the present moment, and especially during the upcoming holiday season.

YAMAS

1) Ahimsa – non-violence or non-harm toward all beings, animals, and nature. Ahimsa is to replace violent states of mind with contrary thoughts and actions.

2) Satya – truthfulness or authenticity. Satya is to consider how we speak to others; it is to strive for honest communication at all times. Satya is to no longer keep secrets or tell half-truths.

3) Asteya – non-stealing. Asteya is to not take what is not given, hoard objects, misappropriate affections, or misuse others’ time. It is to not borrow items for prolonged periods, use objects for divergent purposes, or enter into debt.

4) Brahmacharya – proper use of sexual energy. Brahmacharya is to be responsible within intimate relationships; to respect oneself and others. Brahmacharya is to avoid depletion of vital energy, which results in fatigue and inability to focus.

5) Aparigraha – non-greed or non-hoarding. Aparigraha is to not amass goods that are inessential for survival. Aparigraha teaches trust for the abundant nature of the universe. Aparigrahareleases attachments and encourages preservation.

NIYAMAS
1) Saucha – purity or cleanliness. Saucha is to purify the inner and outer body. Yoga and meditation are means to accomplish this objective.

2) Santosha – contentment. Santosha is to abide in a peaceful state, no longer attached to people, places, or things as sources of happiness or disillusionment. Neither success nor failure harms a contented person.

3) Tapas – inner fire. Tapas is disciplined use of energy. Tapas rids impurities from the mind and body. Tapas develops restraint and moderates craving and attachment.

4) Svadhyaya – self-study. Svadhyaya is to cultivate self-awareness. Svadhyaya is to examine individual purpose and discover the Atman, or Inner Self.

5) Isvarapranidhana – surrender to God (or the Divine in infinite forms). Isvarapranidhana is to devote time and energy toward contemplation of God (or the Divine). It is to surrender Egoic thoughts and self-will. When we become one with our Creator, fear no longer exists.

What is your experience with the yamas and niyamas? Please feel free to share your thoughts below.

Sending blessings of health, love, and light from my heart to yours. Happy holidays!

Namaste.

10 Old Ways to Create a New Sense of Freedom. Blog written by Manduka Ambassador Brian Hyman.

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