Well done! You’ve made it to the Second Limb of Yoga – the Niyamas. It is said that the Yamas are more guidelines for external things whilst the Niyamas are more about internal advisors.
Lets get into it.
- Sauca = Purity
Sow – cha
This first one relates to cleanliness, purity and also the idea of clean energy. I initially thought as I woke up late on Sunday ‘oh gosh I have to clean the house from top to bottom for this one’ which whilst yes it does involve cleaning, it is more about yourself (I did shower ps!) and not necessarily externally.
Instead of stressing myself out, I thought ok I will focus today on cleaning out my mind. Normally on Sunday’s I am running rampant with a list buzzing through my brain all day of all the tasks I have to complete before the week is over. It is stressful and makes me anxious and it not an ideal way to enjoy the weekend! So I chose to let all that go and take the time to rest, swim in the pool, cook a yummy nutritious dinner and allow myself to BE.
I finished the day off with some meditation using the app on my phone called Calm. This is a perfect way to clear out the mind and use saucha. Sometime I am aiming to do much more.
2. Santosa = Contentment
Santosha is actually one of the Niyamas I was very first drawn towards. I believe the very first thing I ever read about Santosha was ‘being content and happy just for the sake of it’ and thought to myself YES that is what I want to emulate.
I do this on the daily (well I always try to) by using the attitude of gratitude. Honestly when you see the world with gratitude fogged glasses, everything tends to be better, you look for the good, you make small moments of your day meaningful and its easier to stay present and not let past events bother you or future events worry you!
I feel as though I’m mastering the ability to just be happy because its good for my health so for this Niyama I wanted to actually focus more on being content with all emotions. Allowing myself to be present when I feel sad, disappointed, angry or upset. To be content knowing that all emotions are a part of life and its ok to experience them for that’s what makes the happy times oh so much more special.
- Tapas = Discipline
The word tapas comes from the Sanskrit word Tap which means ‘to burn’ Tapas relate to heat, discipline, focus, commitment and intent to achieve the true state of yoga (union).
For me tapas are very much about ‘discipline is about doing something after the motivation has left you’ which is what I try to focus on in all aspects of my life. I always come back to the ‘why am I here’ in terms of doing a workout, or eating a healthy meal, going to Yoga class, working for an income, spacing out time for friends and family. When I get a bit blah and don’t want to do anything I try and go back to that initial reason behind why I said yes or why I want to do something, and in the end I always feel better when I stick to those reasons. When I cant come up with a reason as to why I am doing something, or the motivation to do it is no longer there and I really rebel against it, that’s when I look to re-evaluate it and see if it is actually something I should remove from my life.
Today specifically I focused on the Tapas in the movement of my body. I got up at 5.20am to my alarm even though I contemplated turning it off and staying in bed, I did a HIIT workout and really woke up my body – and it felt great! After work I went to a Yoga class in the city and really focused myself on my breath –
4. Svadhyaya = Self Study
Svadhyaya is all about studying the self, learning about the relationship we have with the world and with yoga. The word starts with Sva which in Sanskrit means own / self and Adhyaya means lesson.
For this Niyama today I thought about the way that I can take what I learn on my yoga mat into daily life. For me that means focusing on my breath a lot more during my working hours – running really helps me to focus on breathing but at times when I am stressed at work I forget to come back to my breath and today I really used that to help settle down my nerves and stress levels which was super helpful.
In terms of studying through yoga – well yelp I am doing that daily at the moment with my teacher training and I love it! Each night I’ve been sitting at my desk working through assignments and studying Sanskrit words. Through this study I am able to learn a lot more about what is important in my life, what deserves attention and what I can let go of. Very rewarding!
5. Isvarapranidhana = Celebrate the Sprit
The final Niyama is all about learning to let go, surrender to the unknown, go with the flow. Ishvara means devotion, God or supreme and Pranidhana means devotion or surrender.
For me this is all about letting go of convictions I have on ‘how things should be’ and just let them play out how they are suppose to and not have attachment to how I want it to be in my mind. An example of this is always New Years Eve for me. I always have an idea of how I want it to be, how much fun everyone will be having, how magical it will be to watch fireworks, sip champagne, start the new year in this amazing way. It never ends up that way I make it worse by getting disappointed – I do it with quite a lot of things, building them up and then feeling annoyed that they don’t play out. I’m using Isvara Pranidhana to learn to surrender to the universe – what will be will be as they say, and be happy with whatever the outcome knowing that its all as it should be.
I think the best way I can summarise this all is with the way in which you end a Yoga class, and also a very fitting way to end this challenge / assignment for me:
My soul honours your soul
I honour the place in you where
the entire universe resides
I honour the light, love, truth, beauty and
peace within you
because it is also within me
In sharing these things, we are united
we are the same
we are one