The Yamas and Niyamas

This morning was the yoga and prayer time that I have been doing with a few ladies and today was the first time since I started doing it back at the end of July that no one showed up. Considering that it’s been a pretty small group of regulars it’s actually pretty surprising that we have been able to do it every week for so long without this happening earlier. So, my morning was very different then I had expected but it gave me a great opportunity to put into practice some of the yamas and niyamas that I learned about in my yoga classes this weekend.

The yamas are basically guidelines and principles about how we should interact and relate to the external world. They are guidelines for how to act in society and in relation to other people. The five yamas are: ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness, or non-lying), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacarya (moderation), and aparigraha (non-grasping, non-greed, or non-attachment). I think of these as being sort of like a shortened yogic version of the 10 commandments. The niyamas are guidelines and principles for the inner world, and how we should relate to and treat ourselves. The five niyamas are: santosa (contentment), tapas (discipline), svadhyaya (self-study, or study of sacred texts), sauca (cleanliness, or purity), and Isvarapranidhana (surrender to the divine).

When I got up this morning I prayed that God would bring just the right people this morning and that whoever needed to be here would be here and whoever needed to be somewhere else would be somewhere else. When no one showed up I really believed that God was answering that prayer. In doing this I was practicing Isvarapranidhana, surrender to the divine. Instead of grasping for how I wanted the morning to be or being attached to my own way I let go and surrendered to God’s will for the day. And sure enough the morning didn’t go the way that I would have had it go and I could have grasped and been attached to my idea of how the morning should go, but there would have been very little point in that and it would have just made me miserable. Instead, I said, ok, this is exactly how this day is suppose to be, I trust that I am exactly where I am suppose to be and that everyone else is as well and I let go of my ideas about how things should be and accepted the present moment for what it was, not what I had hoped it would be or imagined it was. In doing so I was practicing aparigraha, non-attachment, and also practicing satya, truthfulness, and santosa, contentment.

By surrendering to God and whatever He had for my day, by letting go of my attachment to control and my grasping for the morning to be a certain way, by acknowledging and seeing the morning for what it was in truth instead of what I might have imagined it to be (a failure), and by being content in what God had brought me that day even if it looked different from what I had wanted, I was able to have a truly wonderful morning of unexpected solitude.

I like the yamas and niyamas, they are often much more difficult to put into practice then I found them to be this morning, but I think they are all guidelines and principles that are worth following. Hope you enjoyed learning a little about them and hearing a little about how I put them to practice today. Peace be with you each this day.

Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany Stedman