WHAT ARE THE NIYAMA IN YOGA?
The word Niyama derives from the Sanskrit word yama that means “control”, preceded by a denial ni-,hence it is literally translated as “non-control”.
When we speak of Niyama we can define them as attitudes and behaviours to follow while tackling the path of yoga (on the contrary of Yama that are instead restrictions regarding the behaviour and the moral conduct of the practitioner).
Traditionally when the practice of Yama, ethical principles and moral, is firmly established, the aspirant can begin to tackle the second ashtanga, the 8 stages of yoga, explained by Patanjali in the yoga sutras, i.e. the Niyama. In reality these two steps are very closely interlinked and should be practiced at the same time, because while the yama are based on the principle of “non-doing“, the niyama are based on the “DO” principle
These are considered the second of the eight “anga” of the Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali.
In other words the Yama are practices of moral type and explain what not to do, while the Niyama are of disciplinary type and explain instead what to do.
The Nyamas are five and act at the interior level:
- Saucha = cleaning;
- Santosha = rejoice at what we have and live a simple life;
- Tapas = austerity;
- Svadhyaya = study and knowledge of oneself;
- Isvara pranidhana = practice surrender;
IN REALITY however we have to consider that there is no separation between interior and exterior with the daily and constant practice Yama and Nyama the two parties meet and merge with the most important contribution of physical practice that enables us to learn to observe, to listen, to broaden the breath and deepen the knowledge of what we are.
To then reach the awareness of ourselves, of our body and the control of our mind and our emotions.
In the next articles we shall talk about and explain the niyama, one by one and we will explain the originating intentions and the adaptation to modern western life.