Niyamas provides a guide for helping you develop the capacity to choose “right” action in your daily life.  Niyamas help you prepare for the practice of Yoga.  They call for conscious commitment to apply mindful skill in the art of action.

The Niyamas mentioned in the Yoga Sutras are:Saucha – The literal translation of Saucha is cleanliness or purity – of body mind, and environment. This is achieved by being mindful of and regulating what goes in our bodies and mind and knowledge of various methods, techniques, and choices to purify and clean any toxins that are already present.

Cleansing of the body is accomplished by yogasana, pranayama and various cleansing practices prescribed by Hatha Yoga.  To clean mental toxins, yogis carefully monitor what is allowed into the mind, the environment that causes disturbance of the mind and practice techniques such as meditation, contemplation, self-reflection and analysis.

As a result of physical purification, the body immunity is enhanced, thus allowing the body to fight off potential infections and recover from any ailments quickly.  The body’s ability to recognize and savor healthy foods is enhanced while unhealthy foods are rendered unappetizing.

Enhancement of mental purity results in cheerfulness, happiness, and peace.  This protects us from psychological toxins such as gossip, backbiting, coercion, sarcasm, and many other hurtful behaviors.  Our innate intelligence is awakened and this results in productive and genuine relationships, transparency, trust, creativity and enhanced productivity.

SantoshaSantosha means contentment.  This is fostering gratitude and detachment.  Santosha allows you to be content with who you are, where you are in life, and whatever you have.  This frees the mind to focus on more meaningful things such as self realization, relationships, and purpose.

Our perspective towards life, situation we find ourselves in and the work we do is more likely to influence our santosha than the circumstances or the environment we find ourselves in.

Mind has a desire to crave and there can be no contentment where there is craving.  Cravings and attachments shift our focus away from the present moment to the past full of regrets, missed opportunities, and disappointments or to the future wants and expectations thus depriving us of the present moment that reflects infinite potential possibilities.  Santosha helps you stay in the present and choose among the infinite possibilities that is most meaningful to us.

TapasTapas means discipline.  This is the process of inner cleansing and removing things that do not serve us anymore.  According to Eknath Eswaran  tapas is the “forgoing of immediate personal gratification for something larger and more worthwhile.”  Understanding Tapas means accepting that you are in charge of your motivation, morale and responsible for consequences of your actions resulting from motivations.  Motivation is intrinsic.  Hence, tapas involves a choice or a will of embarking upon a journey to better ourselves, a journey that will bring challenges, discomfort, and pain before producing results.  Why discomfort and pain?  Because pain is a sign that we have reached the limits of our capability.  Tapas helps uncover these limitations and shortcomings within us, embrace it, and stimulates introspection and growth.

Developing discipline is about embracing discomfort, limitations, and frustration – as a friend, teacher, or coach – that is associated with learning something new or the path towards growth

Svadhyaya -Svadhyaya means self-study, introspection, self-reflection.  Reflection, Introspection, and clarifying your intentions about who you are, who you want to be, and what you want to create are all about SvadhyayaSvadhyaya asks you to adopt a child’s mind and examine what you have seen before like seeing it for the first time.  This can be done easily by stop doing and invest in BeingSvadhyaya is not mere accumulation of facts and figures, but the ability to penetrate at deeper levels.

You cannot fully develop your potential without awareness of faulty assumptions, faulty perceptions, knowledge about your contributions to a situation, and habits that don’t serve you.  Such awareness, knowledge of a desired future state, and commitment to change is Svadhyaya.  Svadhyaya contributes to self-awareness, empathy, curiosity, detachment and discipline.  This is the practice that helps people get connected with their authentic selves, the ‘True North.”

According to the Yoga Sutras, “Svadhyaya when developed to its highest degree brings one close to the highest forces that promote understanding of the most complex.”

Ishwara PranidhanaIshwara Pranidhana means surrender, connecting to something larger than yourself.  Ishwara Pranidhana is the voluntary letting go of limited, personal desires for the sake of greater and more fulfilling experience.  The practice of self-surrender includes dedicated service performing actions for the welfare of others without selfish expectations.  Self surrender is the willing dedication of time, energy, effort, and achievement in the hopes of contributing towards a greater purpose.

Ishwara is the divine or our highest self beyond limitations, suffering, and is the source of all knowledge.  Ishwara is also your guide to attaining knowledge.  Everything we have is a gift we have received.  The appropriate response when receiving gift is gratitude.  This is accomplished by sacrificing our selfish attachments, and by working for the welfare of others.   Self surrender can be achieved by meditation, obedience, and love.

The goal of this practice is to focus on the quality and intent of our actions, quality of the steps we take towards our goals, but detach from the end result while accepting full responsibility for the impact of our action.

Yamas and Niyamas constitute the first two limbs of Yoga.  These practices can be incorporated by everybody no matter what stage of life they are in.  These have applicability at home, in the workplace or even when we are in the gymnasium.  Unlike Asana practice, Yamas and Niyamas do not require a special studio, fees, or teacher for practice.  So, what are you waiting for?

About Kammitment:  Led by scientist and life-coach Kamalesh (Kam) Rao, Kammitment helps one realize and make a commitment towards self-actualization, through tailored leadership coaching workshops and programs for students and professionals in all stages of their lives, by drawing upon the time-tested principles of Yoga and Mindfulness.  Kam has spent 20 years as a scientist and a manufacturing professional in the pharmaceuticals industry, and continues to consult with the industry.  In his free time he leads executive coaching programs for Fortune 100 clients.  A certified Yoga instructor, Kam lives in Oakland, CA and is an active volunteer in the Bay Area community when he is not perfecting the next Pretzel pose in Yoga and tapping into its myriad benefits.  For further information, please email [email protected]

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