» The Challenging Yamas and Niyamas Ma's India

July 22, 2013 on 11:08 am

Dear Spiritual Explorer: I have begun to realize that yoga is not just about doing postures. Can you give me some illumination about this? Louella P., Hollywood, CA


Yamas and Niyamas

Dear Louella: May I suggest Yamas and Niyamas, which sounds like a song from the 60’s, referring to that wonderful singing group, The Mamas and the Papas, but truly is a book about the disciplines required when undertaking the study of yoga and all its permutations.

You must ask yourself whether you are ready to undertake some of the major precepts or yamas and niyamas. The yamas are non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-excess and non-possessiveness. I often chuckle at a good friend of mine saying after I told her what the yamas and niyamas required, “Oh, no big deal,” only later with egg on her face to tell me she had engaged in falling away from all of them. Curious as to how she had managed to do that, she told me she was very possessive about her boyfriend, and at one time, became very angry and jealous and wanted to strike him. This was after she had lied to him about where she had been the previous night, hoping to make him jealous. She thereupon had too much to drink the night after the episode and finally, stole back the electric toothbrush she had gifted him with. While you might laugh at all this, and believe me I did, it points out how difficult it is to maintain a discipline required by the yamas.

Let’s look at the niyamas now: purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study and surrender. I can readily say that those disciplines are for those who truly are making their yoga practice a lifetime observance.

What is the purpose of the yamas and niyamas? As seen in this book, the premise is to free yourself of your own mind and be able to direct it with a modicum of control, without being controlling of course. In this lifetime and perhaps other lifetimes as well, there are many challenges in terms of outward temptations; it is so easy to allow one’s mind to be attracted to what the current zeitgeist is. It is challenging to not allow oneself to be drawn to what the truth of the moment is as society has drawn it. How much more difficult to listen within and cultivate self-discipline, surrender and contentment.

A serious and yet very readable book of study of the yamas and niyamas, each chapter in Ms. Adele’s book covers one ethical guideline. Adele keeps us interested in providing real examples of stories and anecdotes that illustrate the yamas and niyamas and how easy it is to deviate from them. Yet with all that said, this book on yamas and niyamas instills and challenges the reader and yoga aspirant to further cultivate their practice and adhere to the restraints and disciplines within the yamas and niyamas.

A fascinating read!

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