Foundations of Yoga – Yama and Niyama

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We have just celebrated the graduation of our most recent group of Vinyasa Flow Yoga Teachers and one of the areas of study in our program is the foundations of Yoga established in the Yoga Sutras, an ancient text which provides a framework and logical progression for the practice of Yoga.

When I first studied the Yamas and Niyamas the new words and concepts were a bit hard to integrate into my everyday life so I made some practice cards, and each day picked a card at random to inspire, inform, and ignite my practice.

I would like to share those cards with you, to help you to explore the foundations of Yoga on the mat, and in everyday life.  I hope you find them helpful

Foundations of Yoga

Yama and Niyama are the first two limbs of the 8 Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, and serve as a foundation for practice, meditation, and self awareness in all aspects of life.  Further limbs include the familiar practices of Asana – physical postures and Pranayama – breathwork, but in Ashtanga Yoga our practice is grounded first in the Yamas and Niyamas, before we ever set foot on the mat.

 

When built on a foundation of Yama and Niyama any yoga practice, whether it be a practice for fitness, or for relaxation, or for self-discovery, will be one that serves your highest aims.  Ahimsa – Nonviolence helps us to reduce the risk of injury by working at a safe ‘edge’.   Tapas – Purifying Heat helps us to maintain daily practice regardless of our schedules and deadlines.  Brahmacharya – Maintenance of Vital Energy helps us to maintain our positive energy and reduce the waste of energy through worry, stress, and excess.

 

These cards can serve as a guide for you in your practice and your daily life. Print them, cut them out, and pick a card each day to inform, inspire, and ignite your practice.

 

 

Yama 1

Ahimsa – Nonviolence

Today I will be established in nonviolence, and will not harm with thoughts, words, or actions.

 

Niyama 1

Saucha – Cleanliness

Today I will practice purity of mind, body, and spirit in thoughts, words, and actions.

Yama 2

Satya – Truthfulness

Today I will be established in truthfulness, and live my truth in thoughts, words, and actions.

Niyama 2

Santosha – Contentment

Today I will be content with what is, without expectation or striving.

Yama 3

Asteya – Nonstealing

Today I practice nonstealing, and will respect the time, energies, and ideas of myself and others.

Niyama 3

Tapas – Purifying Heat

Today I will sustain my practice despite challenge and adversity.

Yama 4 Brahmacharya  

Maintenance of Vital Energy

Today I will be aware of the right use of my energy in thoughts, words, and actions.

 

Niyama 4

Svadhyaya – Self Study

Today I will practice self study by being present and observant of my thoughts, words, and actions.

Yama 5

Aparigraha – Non-Coveting

Today I will be established in non-attachment in my relationships, lifestyle, and material things.

 

Niyama 5

Ishwara Pranidana – Surrender

Today I will surrender to what is, what has been, and what will be.

I will flow with the rhythm of life.

 

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