This month, we are continuing our study of the 8 Limbs of Yoga. In February, we’ll be focusing on the Niyamas, which have to do with an attitude or internal orientation which cultivate peace and even enlightenment.
The Niyamas include five practices:
Saucha (clarity, purity): the practice of keeping one’s body, mind, and living space clean and uncluttered
Santosha (contentment): the practice of acceptance
Tapas (discipline, effort): the practice of putting concentrated effort toward our intentions
Svadhyaya (self-study): the practice of self-reflection, or of scripture, philosophy or other resources that support self-understanding
Isvara Pranidhana (surrender, service to something bigger): the practice of remembering our connection to the larger world/nature/god; and surrendering to the larger order of things
This may seem like a lofty set of practices, or one designed more for full-time spiritual practitioners than regular people just trying to manage a job, family, and personal life. But we promise, the practice of the Niyamas doesn’t necessarily have to look like a big life change on the outside—they’re all about shifting our perspective from the inside, and creating an internal environment that supports peacefulness and well-being.
A 15 minute practice of the Niyamas
In the setting of your yoga practice, the observance of the Niyamas could look something like this:
Saucha: clearing a small space in your home to set your yoga mat down, so that you can move freely and be unbothered by distractions.
Santosha: sitting down at the beginning of practice with your eyes closed, and welcoming yourself exactly as you have shown up to your mat today. Accepting what is present.
Tapas: Using what is present to fuel your practice. Sticking with it for whatever duration of time you’ve determined you’ll practice—even 15 minutes can make all the difference in the world, if you’re disciplined and focused for that 15 minutes!
Svadhyaya: practice in a way that allows you to observe what you are feeling and experiencing. You may need to eliminate outer distractions to support this process. Perhaps this will mean practicing without music, or closing your eyes from time to time to be able to feel things more deeply.
Isvara Pranidhana: at the end of your practice, sit again. Consider the benefits that your practice has brought—a little more clarity, perhaps, or a feeling of calmness or competency. Whatever they are, extend those benefits like gifts to both yourself and to those around you. Let the surrender of those gifts be your offering to the world throughout your day.
We look forward to working on these practices together this month!
Much love and thanks for reading,
Erin H/Indi Yoga