The Niyamas

How to embrace positive action and attitude

The niyamas are habits that enhance spiritual wellbeing and establish healthy living.

Saucha: Cleanliness

Practicing saucha with clean thoughts and clean eating.

Clean thoughts are kind, honest and compassionate.

Clean eating is ingesting foods whose presence has not caused harm. Often, this means eating as close to the source of the food as possible. In our modern food chain, understanding where food comes from is complex and one person’s harmful food is another person’s idea of peaceful food. For example, if you live in a place of abundant fish and game, converting to veganism may be incongruent if the vegan soy and lentils have been shipped thousands of kilometres.

Land and Heart Yoga Teacher Training. Trout from the north.

Saucha: clean eating

Examine your relationship to the food chain and determine what clean eating means to you. For instance, if you prefer to eat mostly plants, consider how the plants were harvested and by whom. Eating strawberries that were harvested by unfairly-treated migrant workers does not constitute clean eating.

By practicing purity and cleanliness, aversion and avoidance of that which is impure will result.

Yoga Sutra 2.40
Santosa: Contentment

The practice of santosa is to seek happiness and joy from within. Contentment comes from acceptance of your place in the world and living fully in the present moment. It means avoiding the sense of loss that comes from coveting objects, relationships and other unnecessary attachment.

Although santosa could be interpreted to mean abandoning all material possessions and retreating to a cabin in the forest, the true challenge of santosa is to maintain a physical presence in the material world and find contentment from within.

The Niyamas. Land and Heart Yoga Teacher Training

Santosa: contentment

Practice contentment even in the face of pain, sorrow, loss, even joy. Apply discipline to be content in the face of all worldly experiences, whether they be exhilarating or debilitating.

From contentment comes superlative happiness.

Yoga Sutra 2.42
Tapas: Austerity

Tapas means to generate heat. Like all niyamas, this one is subject to a variety of interpretation. One interpretation is a sense of control over extremes. The yogi feels neither heat nor cold and is simply able to tolerate fluctuations in pleasure and pain.

Yoga Teacher Training Lutselke sweat lodge

Tapas: Sweat Lodge

Feeling hot or cold is contingent on a combination of climate and clothing, but the point is the practice of tapas teaches you to tolerate extremes in pain and pleasure without reacting. Tapas, thus, can be interpreted to mean consistency in daily life.

By withstanding discomfort to the body, yogis learn austerity and can view difficulties as perfections.

Yoga Sutra 2.43
Svadhyaya: Self-study

As you work through the yamas and niyamas, it becomes necessary to implement the teaching into practice. Svadhyaya is a tool to develop contemplative control over thoughts, words and actions. The study of the self is an ongoing discovery of your responsibilities to yourself and to the world around you. Self-study results in a theoretical approach to devotion to a universal presence. Svadhyaya is communion with your higher purpose.

Svadhyaya is the study of spiritual texts in the context of yoga

Svadhyaya: study of spiritual texts

Create a personal connection with a higher purpose by examining spiritual texts.

Yoga Sutra 2.44

Exercise: Self-Study. Judge, recognize, adapt.
Your energy mimics the narrative in your head. Connect to the world through positive attitude. If your inner dialogue is self-deprecating and full of judgements about other people, your self-perception will be negative and judgemental. If you inner dialogue is full of loving kindness for yourself and compassion for others, you will embody kindness and compassion. Your attitude mimics the stories you tell yourself about the world and your place in it.
What stories are you telling yourself? What stories can you do without? How would you like to present yourself to the world?
This is a week-long journal where you examine your inner dialogue.

Day 1-3

Each day, note one time you said “I can’t”:
a) Where did this happen?
b) To who did you say it?
c) What were you avoiding?

Day 4

Look back at each day’s narrative.

a) Do you notice a theme?
b) What is the source of these stories?
How would saying the opposite change your circumstances?

Day 5

Change your dialogue. When you think the following:
I can’t….
Instead I (how did you avoid what you “couldn’t do”)
Now try this:

I can
And I achieved

By taigapaws

Land and Heart Yoga is an online yoga studio. Book retreats, yoga teacher trainings, meditation and asana classes with Kate. Wild yoga. For wherever you are.