The Purpose of Yama and Niyama
When I first learned yoga and for many years, I knew nothing of the yama and niyama. I didn’t know that they are actually stepping stones in the practice of yoga.
With the popularity of hatha yoga these days, it’s common for students to do asanas hoping to make their bodies strong. However, hatha yoga is just one of the eight limbs of the tree, which includes yama and niyama.
The point I made in yesterday’s post is that progress is futile if one’s inner life isn’t evolving. If we’re growing emotionally, mentally, spiritually, our outer life changes too.
Each posture we do gives an opportunity for building awareness on all levels. This awareness stays with the practitioner, though, only as far as it is internalised. When we learn to take yoga “off the mat” into our everyday lives, yoga understanding is never-ending.
It’s said that as yoga practitioners, we are always students. We’re probably always going to be in the process of coming to terms with negative qualities, like: resentment, selfishness, anger, and, jealousy. When we fall prey to these qualities – thoughts, words, or deeds that elicit that prick of conscience – we lose the energy we gained from our yoga practice.
Practising the yamas and niyama helps curb the expression of greed, desire, and attachment, and allows energy gained from the practice of the asanas, pranayama, and meditation, to shape us. The postures, breathing, and meditation then give energy to one’s inner being.