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Yamas and Niyamas

The yamas and niyamas have been preserved through the centuries as
the foundation, the first and second stage, of the eight-staged practice of
yoga: yama — niyama — asana — pranayama — pratyahara — dharana
— dhyana — samadhi. Yet, they are fundamental to all beings, expected
aims of everyone in society, and assumed to be fully intact for anyone
seeking life's highest aim in the pursuit called yoga.
Sage Patanjali (ca 200 bce), raja yoga's foremost propounder, told us,
"These yamas are not limited by class, country, time (past,
present or future) or situation. Hence they are called the
universal great vows."
These terms are translated as ”effort and relaxation” or “exertion and
rest”. This stage consists in mastering fundamental ethic and psychohygienic rules of a spiritual seeker’s life.
"When a yogin becomes qualified by practicing Yama and
Niyama, then the yogin can proceed to asana and the other
— Yoga Bhashya Vivarana (II.29)


Austerity 1 . Purity NIYAMAS — The 10 Vedic Observances NIYAMA 1 — Hri.Table of Contents The Ten Yamas and Ten Niyamas YAMAS — The 10 Vedic Restraints YAMA 1 — Ahimsa. Divine Conduct YAMA 5 — Kshama. Compassion YAMA 8 — Arjava. Contentment NIYAMA 3 — Dana. Remorse NIYAMA 2 — Santosha. Recitation NIYAMA 10 — Tapas. Truthfulness YAMA 3 — Asteya. Patience YAMA 6 — Dhriti. Sacred Vows NIYAMA 9 — Japa. Faith NIYAMA 5 — Ishvarapujana. Honesty YAMA 9 — Mitahara. Scriptural Listening NIYAMA 7 — Mati. Non-harming YAMA 2 — Satya. Nonstealing YAMA 4 — Brahmacharya. Steadfastness YAMA 7 — Daya. Worship NIYAMA 6 — Siddhanta Shravana. Cognition NIYAMA 8 — Vrata. Moderate Appetite YAMA 10 — Shauca. Giving NIYAMA 4 — Astikya.

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that when acted upon result in injury to others. and make your life successful. no guilt and no neediness. truth and generosity is a mind that can become quiet: no fights. hoarding. Vishnu Purana only five yamas and five niyamas have been mentioned. after all. untruthfulness. the Tirumantiram of Tirumular and in the Yoga Sutras of |Sage Patanjali. In other authoritative texts like the Yoga Sutra. They are also found in the Hatha Yoga Pra dipika by Gorakshanatha. the yamas may be said to have greater importance. he said. which. called Upanishads." Yogic scholar Swami Brahmananda Saraswati revealed the inner science of yama and niyama. namely the Shandilya and the Varuha.” Patanjali does not suggest that we live according to the yamas and niyamas in order to be good people or to obey God. “For each vitarka you have. you can create its opposite through yama and niyama. On the whole. 3 . He stated. indolence or selfishness. Darshanopanishad. and Yoga Yajnyavalkya. The focus moves from our actions to our thoughts. discontent. As explained in the Manusmriti: "one must always follow the yamas without any exception. generate actions. to control the vitarkas.Description The yamas and niyamas are a common-sense code recorded in the final section of the Vedas. Traditionally. To live the yamas and niyamas also demands a radical deepening of commitment. the cruel mental waves or thoughts. one gets ruined if he follows the niyamas alone. His moral code describes the qualities we need in order to reach the goal of yoga: to still the fluctuations of the mind and rest in our true nature. ignoring the yamas. A mind filled with love. They are the means. ten yamas and ten niyamas are found mentioned in texts such as Trishikhibrahmanopanishad (Mantra part).

anger. the do not’s. selfi shness. the religious observances that cultivate and bring forth the refined soul qualities. greed and lust.The Ten Yamas and Ten Niyamas The following section. lifting awareness into the consciousness of the higher chakras of love. elucidate the yamas and niyamas. the do’s. Second are illustrated the ten niyamas. with its governing impulses of fear. selflessness. 4 . compassion. which harness the instinctive nature. Presented first are the ten yamas. with accompanying illustrations. jealousy. intelligence and bliss.

Never be a source of dread. pain or injury. as a result of either ignorance. which is no less important. 5 . which are vicious manifestations of the lower self. dhriti. getting rid of coarse emotions. condemnation. Not speaking that which. lack of understanding of the universal order and of one’s own place and role in it. fear. would injure others.Guidelines for how we interact with the outer world. or out of indulging in the emotions of spite. even in your dreams. the sources of abuse. revering all beings as expressions of the One Divine energy. YAMA 1 — Ahimsa. which are the result of ill thoughts and often lead to rude words and actions. One can make ethical mistakes. Not harming the environment.. resentment. Non-harming Practice non-harming. Live a kindly life. including crimes. word or deed. kshama.YAMAS — The 10 Vedic Restraints Yamas . This also includes the principles of ethically correct nutrition and. The ten yamas are: ahimsa. etc. aasteya. not harming oneself and others by thought. Knowing that harm caused to others unfailingly returns to oneself. arjava. live peacefully with God's creation. anxiety. daya. mitahara and shauca. Social disciplines to guide us in our relationships with others. Let go of fear and insecurity. even though truthful. aatya. brahmacharya.

word or deed. don't keep secrets from family or loved ones. a stranger to deceit. Shun pornography. Do not use borrowed resources for unintended purposes or keep them past due. gossip or backbiting. Divine Conduct Practice divine conduct. Speak only that which is true. resources or rights without permission and acknowledgment. accurate and frank in discussions. Nonstealing Uphold the virtue of non stealing. Refraining from lying and betraying promises. neither thieving. not intending to deceive others in our thoughts. and after marriage in creating family success. use vital energies in study. Do not use others' name. Before marriage. YAMA 3 — Asteya. Do not gamble or defraud others.YAMA 2 — Satya. sexual humor and violence. Admit your failings. coveting nor failing to repay debt. as well as our words and actions. controlling lust by remaining celibate when single and faithful in marriage. 6 . helpful and necessary. Do not engage in slander. Don't waste the sacred force by promiscuity in thought. Be fair. Knowing that deception creates distance. words. Be restrained with the opposite sex. Seek holy company. YAMA 4 — Brahmacharya. kind. Control your desires and live within your means. Dress and speak modestly. Do not renege on promises. Do not bear false witness against another. Truthfulness Adhere to truthfulness.

7 . courage and industriousness. restraining intolerance with people and impatience with circumstances. animals. dominate conversations or interrupt others. Achieve your goals with a prayer. YAMA 6 — Dhriti. Overcome obstacles. Don't argue. Do not let opposition or fear of failure result in changing strategies. Patience Exercise patience. Remain poised in good times and bad. conquering callous.YAMA 5 — Kshama. without adjusting to you. Compassion Practice compassion. YAMA 7 — Daya. Be patient with children and the elderly. Minimize stress by keeping worries at bay. Be firm in your decisions. cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings. Let others behave according to their nature. Be kind to people. Honor and assist those who are weak. fear. impoverished. Forgive those who apologize and show true remorse. aged or in pain. Be agreeable. Avoid sloth and procrastination. Foster sympathy for others' needs and suffering. plants and the Earth itself. Steadfastness Foster steadfastness. persistence and push. purpose. overcoming nonperseverance. Never carp or complain. See God everywhere. indecision and changeableness. Oppose family abuse and other cruelties. Develop willpower. Don't be in a hurry. plan.

never between meals. angered or indecent language. Face and accept your faults without blaming them on others. at a moderate pace. avoiding rich or fancy fare. renouncing deception and wrongdoing. Welcome correction as a means to bettering yourself. thieves or other impure people. Drink in moderation. Act honorably even in hard times. Honesty Maintain honesty. Seek out and correct your faults and bad habits. Do not cheat. YAMA 10 — Shauca. wholesome vegetarian foods that vitalize the body. Keep away from pornography and violence. Never use harsh. Eat at regular times. Allow yourself the expression of remorse. Do not bribe or accept bribes. Do an honest day's work. body and speech. Resolve all contention before sleep. Act virtuously. Be straightforward in business. fish. in a disturbed atmosphere or when upset. Shun pride and pretension. being modest and showing shame for misdeeds. Recognize your errors. only when hungry. healthy body. Enjoy fresh. YAMA 9 — Mitahara. Be frank with yourself. Sincerely apologize to those hurt by your words or deeds. 8 .YAMA 8 — Arjava. Do not boast. avoiding impurity in mind. shellfish. Keep good company. deceive or circumvent to achieve an end. never mixing with adulterers. Follow a simple diet. neither eating too much nor consuming meat. Maintain a clean. Moderate Appetite Be moderate in appetite. Purity Uphold the ethic of purity. Obey the laws of your nation and locale. Meditate daily. Pay your taxes. confess and make amends. Avoid junk food. fowl or eggs. Keep a pure. Worship devoutly. uncluttered home and workplace.

Remorse Allow yourself the expression of remorse. being modest and showing shame for misdeeds. body or emotions. seeking joy and serenity in life. Recognize your errors. The five niyamas are: hri. Niyama is about self-regulation — helping us maintain a positive environment in which to grow. Resolve all contention before sleep. japa and tapas. your friends and your belongings. smile and uplift others. mati. Keep the mountaintop view that life is an opportunity for spiritual progress. ishvarapujana. Sincerely apologize to those hurt by your words or deeds. Do not boast. NIYAMA 2 — Santosha. Contentment Nurture contentment. The practice of Niyama harnesses the energy generated from our practice and cultivation of the yamas. rather than mind. how we interact with ourselves.NIYAMAS — The 10 Vedic Observances Niyamas. our internal world. Identify with the eternal You. Don't complain about what you don't possess. confess and make amends. vrata. santosha. siddhanta shravana. 9 . NIYAMA 1 — Hri. Be happy. Seek out and correct your faults and bad habits. astikya. Welcome correction as a means to bettering yourself. Live in the eternal now. dana. Shun pride and pretension. Live in constant gratitude for your health.

Set aside one room of your home as God's shrine.NIYAMA 3 — Dana. Treat guests as God. Donate religious literature. guru and your path to enlightenment. clearing the inner channels to God. Practice devotion and sadhana to inspire experiences that build advanced faith. Meditate after each puja. Giving Be generous to a fault. to temples. as God's money. Visit your shrine before and after leaving the house. Approach the temple with offerings. Tithe. one with your satguru. Avoid doubt and despair. Visit guru with gifts in hand. Bestow your time and talents without seeking praise. Offer fruit. Be loyal to your lineage. Gods and guru so their grace flows toward you and loved ones. the scriptures and traditions. Feed and give to those in need. Believe firmly in God. Worship Cultivate devotion through daily worship and meditation. 10 . NIYAMA 4 — Astikya. Learn a simple puja and the chants. Gods. NIYAMA 5 — Ishvarapujana. Shun those who try to break your faith by argument and accusation. flowers or food daily. offering one-tenth of your gross income (dashamamsha). Worship in heartfelt devotion. Trust in the words of the masters. ashrams and spiritual organizations. giving liberally without thought of reward. Faith Cultivate an unshakable faith.

your community. Take vows to harness the instinctive nature. follow his path and don't waste time exploring other ways. Avoid secondary texts that preach violence.NIYAMA 6 — Siddhanta Shravana. Scriptural Listening Eagerly hear the scriptures. Honor vows as spiritual contracts with your soul. study and. Through meditation. small voice within. tithing. loyalty to a lineage. listen to readings and dissertations by which wisdom flows from knower to seeker. vegetarianism or nonsmoking. Fast periodically. Pilgrimage yearly. Gods and guru. Sacred Vows Embrace religious vows. Uphold your vows strictly. NIYAMA 7 — Mati. nonaddiction. by understanding the subtle sciences. Discover the hidden lesson in each experience to develop a profound understanding of life and yourself. NIYAMA 8 — Vrata. Revere and study the revealed scriptures. to awaken the light within. monasticism. above all. with God. Cognition Develop a spiritual will and intellect with your satguru's guidance. 11 . the Vedas and Agamas. cultivate intuition by listening to the still. inner worlds and mystical texts. rules and observances and never waver in fulfilling them. study the teachings and listen to the wise of your lineage. Choose a guru. Read. Strive for knowledge of God. be they marriage.

such as 108 prostrations or fasting. Let japa quell emotions and quiet the rivers of thought. Bathe first. giving up cherished possessions. to ignite the inner fires of self-transformation.NIYAMA 9 — Japa. reciting the sacred sound. penance and sacrifice. money or time. Be ardent in worship. Atone for misdeeds through prayashchitta (penance). ~~~ 12 . purify and uplift you. under a satguru's guidance. meditation and pilgrimage. Fulfill severe austerities at special times. Live free of anger so that japa strengthens your higher nature. Heed your instructions and chant the prescribed repetitions without fail. Austerity Practice austerity. serious disciplines. quiet the mind and concentrate fully to let japa harmonize. Recitation Chant your holy mantra daily. word or phrase given by your guru. NIYAMA 10 — Tapas. Perform self-denial.