Patanjali’s eight paths of Yoga 2 = Niyama

Traditional Yoga, as set out by patanjali in his Yoga sutras, consists of eight ‘paths’. The first five are called  bahiranga sadhana (external aids to Yoga), and the last three are called antaranga sadhana (internal aids to Yoga).

In my previous post I gave an overview of the first path Yama – the five ‘don’ts’ of Yoga. Niyama is the second path and refers to the five ‘dos’ or observances in Yoga.

Shaucha – means cleanliness and purity, both external (such as cleaning your teeth, having a shower and so on) and internally (in terms of food that you eat, thoughts that you have).  Internal shaucha can also refer to letting go of negative thought patterns or bad /uncomfortable memories that haunt you.

Santosha -refers to developing satisfaction and contentment for where you are, what you have and generally everything about you.

Tapas – is about developing practices and observances for the body, mind and behaviour or to acheive a goal. In some religions and some times in history tapas was about suffering and pain in order to burn off negative thought patterns and behaviour.

Svadhyaya: means ‘study’ and in Yoga this means study of vedic and yogic scriptures, and applying them to one’s own life.

Ishvarapranidhana:  means surrender, and in the cotext of Hinduism means surrender t0 (or worship of) God. It can also mean devotion to a particular path in life.

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