Plying the Yama and Niyama

Feb 21, 2012 | Community, Wisdom, Yoga practices | 0 comments

A renowned yoga teacher has been in trouble recently. I’ve been following the story through tweets, FB offerings, and web logs. These are not necessarily dependable sources but they have spoken of big ructions in the yoga world. Whether or not the allegations prove true, it is true that we all veer off the straight-and-narrow at times. Being in touch with our own frailties is one way we can cultivate compassion for our humanity and that of others. As yogis, we have readily at hand some beautiful suggestions for living skilfully, peacefully and well in the form of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra.

Niyama Poster

Yama

Yama

All we have to do is in apply these abstract concepts to our everyday lives and activities. If you are new to yogic thinking and have a hard time holding the Sanskrit words in your head, you might just pick one of the ideals with which to engage for a while. Ahimsa, translated as non-violence, is a worthy yama to pursue. I like to re-frame Ahimsa as being sensitive to all living things. It’s a hard precept to realise, that is, to treat oneself kindly, sensitively, and respectfully. I can think of countless times my internal critic has judged me harshly. Or, how I’ve overtaxed my body in the spirit of getting a job done or a deadline met. Freedom is sometimes understood as being able to do whatever we want, but I believe ultimate freedom is surrendering to a moral compass and the Sutra are a simple, worthy code for keeping us out of trouble.  

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