How Yamas and Niyamas Can Help to Lead a Healthier and Happier Life
They are for you to think about and ponder over with a rational mind, because yoga is not about mindlessly accepting externally imposed rules it is about finding the truth for yourself and “connecting” with it.
There are many interpretations of and opinions about the yamas and niyamas. While the ancient Indian text, the Bhagavata Purana assigns 12 yogic restraints the Parashar Smriti, another text, puts forward ten.
But the yamas as described in Patanjalis Yoga Sutra are only five, which are also known as the great universal vows or the sarvabhauma maha vratas, because they are not limited by class, creed, time or circumstances.
According to the Yajnavalkya Samhita, ahimsa or non-violence is the awareness and practice of nonviolence in thought, speech and action. It advocates the practices of compassion, love, understanding, patience, self-love, and worthiness.
Patanjali describes truthfulness as: “To be in harmony with mind, word and action, to conduct speech and mind according to truth, to express through speech and to retain it in the intellect what has been seen, understood or heard.” A perfectly truthful person is he who expresses in his speech exactly what he thinks in his mind and in the end acts according to it.
Non-stealing or asteya is the third constituent of the yamas of Ashtanga Yoga. It upholds forgoing the unauthorized possession of thought, speech and action. Asteya stands against covetousness and envy. It advocates the cultivation of a sense of completeness and self-sufficiency in order to progress beyond base cravings.
The niyamas are the second constituents of Ashtanga Yoga. How we interact with ourselves, our internal world. The niyamas are about self-regulation- helping us maintain a positive environment in which to grow.