Day 132 Intention ~ Review the Niyamas
We can all use a refresher course when it comes to the yoga teachings. Patanjali's eight limbed path of yoga is the logical place to start. We went through the yamas a little bit the other day, but today, to continue applying my practice off the mat, I would like to review the niyamas or observances to practice daily also.
There are five niyamas:
- Saucha ~ cleanliness or purity
- Samtosha ~ contentment
- Tapah ~ accepting pain and not causing pain
- Svadhyaya ~ study of spiritual books and Self
- Isvarapranidhana ~ worship of God, self-surrender
Saucha most obviously can be practiced through physical cleanliness and scrubbing of oneself. We should be clean before we practice any of the eight limbs, including asana. The tougher part of this is purity and cleanliness of the mind. Staying away from negative thoughts or saying dirty words, etc. can help purify the mind. So can meditation practice. Especially in this day and age when there is so much media coming at us from all different directions, keeping things positive is tough. Try to listen to uplifting music, watch positive movies or shows, read uplifting books.
Samtosha is finding contentment with whatever is going on around you. Accepting the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful. Keeping a level head. Not being reactionary. It doesn't mean that you don't feel, but you take whatever comes your way with grace.
Tapas means "to burn". Physically, we cleanse the body through the physical practice, burning the toxins out. We can eat a healthy, clean and green diet to help the process move more efficiently. We practice tapas in our mind when we let go of our ideas of things...when we change our perspective and let our minds (and our hearts) open. Sri Swami Satchidananda says that "Don't think that if someone causes us pain they hate us, but rather that they are helping us to purify ourselves. If we can think like this, we are real Yogis."
Svadhyaya is spiritual study and study of the Self. Studying the scriptures, whether it is in the Bible, the Torah, The Puranas, or The Bhagavad Gita, whatever your religion or spiritual belief or path, you will get closer to God and to your own personal sadhana.
The last of the niyamas is Isvarapranidhana and it is total surrender to God. It is giving everything up to God. Give everything you do up to God. Giving our lives to help others is isvarapranidhana. Once we can give it all up, we don't possess anything anymore and therefore no longer have worry. We know that God will take care of us. Peace and joy will come to those who give it all up to God and to humanity. With this samadhi will come.