Yama and Niyama

What constitutes, Raja Yoga, is listed in the second chapter, Sādhana Pāda in the YogaSutraSādhana Pāda means laying out the practical hints so a seeker can actually practice to make any progress on the yogic path.

यमनियमासनप्राणायामप्रत्याहारधारणाध्यानसमाधयोऽष्टावङ्गानि॥२.२९

Yama-niyama-āsana-prāṇāyāma-pratyāhāra-dhāraṇā-dhyāna-samādhayo’ṣṭāvaṅgāni||29||

According to this sutra the eight limbs, aṣṭāṅga are: Yama, Niyama, Āsana, Prānayāma, Pratyāhāra, Dhārana, Dhyāna and Samādhi.

This post is only an introduction to the first two limbs: Yama and Niyama. In Samskritam, Yama may be interpreted as restraint, discipline, self-regulation. Although, Niyama means observance, it can also considered as a form of discipline. There are five restraints and five observances; ten principles that operate on every action, word and thought.

Partaking solely in academic discussions or acting on pretense without strict adherence to Yama and Niyama is not conducive to put each principle into practice. The main object of this relentless ethical code is to eliminate completely all mental and emotional disturbances which charactize the life of an ordinary human being (Taimni). This prepares serious seekers to journey safely on the spiritual path.

At the outset, it is important to remember that morality discussed through yoga philosophy (principles) is not of the conventional type or even the ordinary religious type. Here, however, it is a transcendental morality aimed at liberating an individual from the bonds of illusion and ignorance. Consequently, the virtues expected from a seeker is of a much wider scope and has a deeper significance than what appears on the surface. Each virtue, then, has to be practiced to a higher degree of perfection. (Taimni)

Eknath Easwaran said taking “my life is a school” approach would provide numerous opportunities to experiment these priniciples. Whether it be marriage or rearing a child, graduate school or corporate life, phase of life – midlife or teenage; each provides its own challenges to practice all the ethics. This was what I needed to hear to bring the 8 limbs to life. With this attitude, obstacles became opportunities. When I did catch myself practicing any ethic, my nightly reflection was filled with gratitude. In this way, each conclusion – success or failure, charted my progress, deepened my faith in the tools and boosted my confidence to continue on the path.

Since it is difficult to find exact translations for Samskritham terms, I have included multiple meanings for each of the Yama and Niyama, in an attempt to preserve their authenticity.

Yama

अहिंसासत्यास्तेयब्रह्मचर्यापरिग्रहा यमाः॥२.३०॥

Ahiṁsā-satya-asteya-brahmacarya-aparigrahā yamāḥ||30||

The first limb, Yama, यम, restraint, deals with those behaviors that show respect for self and others. As we slowly begin to understand how we are all connected, we realize in caring for others we are also taking care of ourselves. Our daily choices create effects in the world that we may never know. This may be the most important reading for embarking on this path of awakening. (Charlotte Bell)

Yamas are guidelines, a framework from which we can begin a process of inquiry. Practicing the Yamas mechanically as commandments or simply because they are written in the sūtras does not lead to greater wisdom. (Charlotte Bell) Applying them to each context that arises in daily life and learning from the consequences of our actions furthers our inquiry and refines our practice.

Using the word restraint as Yama, may imply taking away certain privileges to be in a yogic frame of mind. On the contrary – it is so much more. I discovered that cultivating restraints is really cultivating the ability to manage my feelings – in essence – to recognize the urge to act or not act, and to stop myself from doing or saying things that are not sensible or correct.

Jack Kornfield describes the evolutionary process of practicing the precepts: “At first, precepts are a practice. Then, they become a necessity, and finally they become joy.”

यम

Restraints

अहिंसा       (Ahimsā) Non-Harming, Non-Violence, Kindness, Dynamic Peacefulness
सत्य          (Sathya) Truth, Authenticity, Sincerity, Benevolence
अस्तेय       (Astheya) Non-Stealing, Honesty, Abundance
ब्रह्मचर्य      (Brahmacharya) Moderation, Continence, Dedicated to the Divine
अपरिग्रह     (Aparigraha) Non-Hoarding, Self reliance, Renouncing, Simplicity, Generosity

For example, the first Yama is Ahimsā, non-harming.  Alice Christensen stated that Ahimsā is listed as the first discipline because the practice of the other nine ethics depended on it. According to her, when trying to practice the second ethic, Satya, truthfulness, lying to myself is a form of harming; or in the practice of the third ethic, Asteya, non-stealing, wasting my time is stealing from myself which is harming.

In Rāja Yoga, the traditional practice of Yamas is equated to taking a vow, an earnest promise of dedicated practice. Patanjali refers to it as a Great Vow, Mahavratham, in the Yoga Sutra (2:31). This implies the seriousness of accepting the responsibility of the practice of Yamas, (Niyamas too!) without the limitations of time, space, season, family, country, etc.; implying – although forgiveness is paramount when I fail, excuses are not entertained when Mahavratham, the Great Vow has been activated.

Niyama

शौचसन्तोषतपःस्वाध्यायेश्वरप्रणिधानानि नियमाः॥२.३२॥

Śauca-santoṣa-tapaḥ-svādhyāya-eśvarapraṇidhānāni niyamāḥ||32||

Niyama, नियम, Observances, the second limb, are those behaviors that convey positive, uplifting self actions. Charlotte Bell attributes these ethics towards conscious everyday living. She expresses how it helped her begin the process of shifting daily habits to align with what would become a lifelong commitment to yoga. As good as āsana practice made me feel, performing poses for an hour a day and stowing my mat and sleepwalking through the rest of my life was no longer an option.”

Niyama, is the act of perceiving and respecting the requirements of the laws of nature while recognizing our human imperfections and self-centeredness. “How we express the niyamasvten years from now may bear killer resemblance to how our practice looks today,” assures Bell.

As long as we apply ourselves to the practice of niyamas, it helps us cultivate gratitude and sacredness towards daily duties and activities, and makes us rely on the tools to bring us a step closer to discovering our true selves possibly through Samādhi, spiritual bliss.

नियम

Observances

शौच                 (Shaucha) Purity, Cleanliness, Clarity
सन्तोष               (Santosha) Contentment, Peacefulness
तपस्                  (Tapas) Effort, Heat, Discipline, Sacrifice
स्वाध्याय             (Svadhyaya) Self-Study, Reflection, Introspection
ईश्वरप्रणिधान      (Ishvara Pranidhana) Surrender, Faith, Gratitude, Devotion, Higher Purpose

For example, the first Niyama is Shaucha, Purity or Cleanliness, refers to both external and internal. The external concept of Śaucha suggests a clean body through daily ablutions, clean surroundings (owned and public), fresh and clean food to purify the body. Anger, hate, prejudice, greed, pride, fear, negative thoughts are known toxins to body and mind. Hence, purity of speech, clarity of emotions and dusting the cobwebs of the mind is internal Śaucha.

Wisdom

It is imperative to study each ethic and the eight limbs in detail to progress towards mastery. However, struggling to cultivate them may indicate that they are not present within or perhaps the opposite qualities exist. Since the eight limbs work together as one entity, gurus suggests that while you practice āsana, observe the behavior of the body. Regardless of what posture you are doing, the whole body participates; the inner intelligence restores balance and comfort (Swāmi Venkateshānanda).

When this happens ‘self-discipline’ begins to manifest effortlessly. In other words, practice eventually becomes effortless and even unnecessary when these qualities become the ground on which we live and grow. (Bell)

Next Post: First Yama: Ahimsā – Non-harming or Dynamic Peacefulness

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Bell, Charlotte.2007. Mindful Yoga Mindful Life. Rodmell Press

Christensen, Alice. 1998. Yoga of the Heart: Ten Ethical Principles for Gaining Limitless Growth, Confidence and Achievement. American Yoga Association

Kriyananda, Swami. 2011. The Art and Science of Raja Yoga. Crystal Clarity Publishers

Venkateshānanda, Swami. 2011. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Motilal Banarasidass Publishers, New Delhi, India.

warm ups

The dictionary definition of warm up is the act of preparation for a game, performance, or workout, involving gentle, loosening exercises. To perform the best on the field, stage, tennis court or a yoga mat, warm ups are absolutely essential.

Many in the yoga world agree warm ups are important. But with the push of power yoga and vinyasa flow it is not truly given an honest attempt in the classroom. In the past year the few classes I attended spent less than 5 minutes on warm-ups even on cold days. A couple of times I came home with pain in my lower back, needing to relieve it with additional asanas. Recently, I had to leave a class within the first ten minutes due to severe cramping in my left calf and hamstrings since the vinyasa began immediately after a brief centering with no warm up at all.

The Huffington Post had an article on how injuries related to yoga are on the rise. Is it because classes are lacking adequate warm up? It is the responsibility of yoga teachers to make sure all students leave the class injury free.

Thirties

When I began asana practice in my early thirties, I was suffering from sports related injuries. I found relief almost instantly in my lower back – a pain that had been nagging me for years. Then, during teacher training I discovered these back relieving asanas were preceded by a set of warm ups – detailed beautifully in one of the textbooks. Without a proper warm up sequence, these asanas would not have been as effective.

Still, in the infancy of my yoga teaching career, I seemed to have completely forgotten this crucial aspect and developed a misconstrued image of a ‘perfect’ yoga teacher. Ignoring the tenet of non-harming (ahimsa) and feeling the need to prove that I can teach a power vinyasa class in order to get a job at a studio or a gym led to costly compromises. Obviously, I had completely overlooked Patanjali’s advice in the Yoga Sutra – 1.12, (अभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां तन्निरोधः॥१.१२॥) – which I interpret here as – the practice is successful only with detachment from the ego – i.e. letting go of illusionary perfection.

With continued study of the Yoga Sutras, I was able to erase the image of a ‘perfect’ yoga teacher and settled into giving my best one class at a time. I have been using the warm up asanas series for the past fifteen years to help me stay pain free (most of the time) and help others manage theirs as well. Many of my students have been coming to class for over six years and have active lifestyles – playing tennis, running or biking – with asanas to support their sports. I am happy to hear them vouch that the warmup part of the class prepares them to safely enjoy a more involved vinyasa.

Forties

Don’t believe it when people say that forties is the new thirties. My body signaled that a good warm up routine couldn’t be overlooked no matter what. Especially for those who came to the class looking to me to lead them safely in asana.

Very few people can jump out of bed and land in Trikonasana perfectly. It takes patience to identify the tight areas, recognize the muscles needed to create movement so that the “stretch” can occur effectively in Triangle pose. Sadly, I have had people leave the class because the vinyasa flow did not start right away. And – I believe one must be adequately warmed up to perform Sun Salutation correctly, despite the popular opinion that it should be used as a warm up.

Certainly, senior and gentle yoga have found their respectful place in the hierarchy of asana classes. Still, the schedule seems to be filled with power vinyasa classes. The vinyasa classes are designated as beginners, intermediate, or advanced, yet there ends up being a mix of all levels – ability and age. A few come to check if they can graduate from a beginners class to an intermediate one. Some refuse to use props to transition from one pose to another safely. Then, it becomes a serious responsibility as a teacher to not only initiate an effective warm up sequence but also to provide additional variations to make sure the students leave the classroom injury free.

As a student of the eight fold path and a teacher of asana, the vow of Raja Yoga binds me to ethical principles like ahimsa, non harming (Yama/Niyama). This dictates the necessity of being the enforcer of safe, injury free classroom experience. My sincere commitment to these ethics gives me the freedom not to second guess myself when instructing each asana. These ethical principles become my intention and a foundation for an energizing and a mindful class.

In essence, it is a must that yoga teachers be taught the philosophy of Yamas and Niyamas with its application to daily life.  Again, the wisdom of Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras 1:14, (स तु दीर्घकालनैरन्तर्यसत्कारासेवितो दृढभूमिः॥१.१४॥) irrefutably posits a measure for any practice – asana or teaching. That every teacher must practice these ethics for a long time to set a firm foundation before embarking into the world of teaching asana. The practicality of these principles will be reflected in your work as a yoga teacher and will be perceived by the students in the way you instruct them. It becomes a pleasure then to help the students understand that the warm up movements are designed to open and release the various tight spaces of the body gradually in preparation for more complex postures.

Fifties

It is an erroneous assumption that if one has been practicing asana, all your aches and pains, and diseases are cured. How can years of compromised dietary habits, sedentary lifestyle, genetic predispositon – disappear with just a weekly yoga class?

Now, in my fifties, inspite of regular asana practice, I wake up each morning quite stiff. Genetic predisposition of arthritis or process of aging – or both? Don’t expect me to touch my toes without warming up the hips, hamstrings, knees and lower back. Still, it is because of the ‘right’ warm-up asanas with props each morning that I am able to bend safely – to get down to my toes.

Recently, I began warming up at home before I teach a class, and then some more with my students – especially if I have to teach an early morning class. While some are blessed with flexibility and strength, others clearly aren’t. For those who aren’t, warm up asanas provide a sure way to initiate movements with care and confidence.

I realized that cutting down on warm ups to accommodate ‘difficult’ poses – whether to remove the boredom factor or to prove to my ego that I can still teach like other teachers is completely futile. Asana done correctly is not a competition, even with myself. Each of us needs to honor our bodies by acknowledging the aging process. Adjusting our asana practices with proper warm up, keeping in mind aging and other health related changes is simply a logical choice. A big part of mastery in practicing asana lies in sensing just how far to move into a stretch. Priority is to learn how to stay injury free so I can keep myself and my students practicing asanas safely well into our seventies.

It is a fact that the muscles are continually loosing their elasticity, joints will begin to creak – the body is aging even though the mind stubbornly ignores it. Have you noticed your body getting stiff due to lack of movement – especially after a long flight or six to seven hours of sleep, no matter your age? Gentle, loosening exercises called warm up is where you should begin.

Warming up for yoga-asana is called काय, Kāya or शरीर सञ्चलन, Śarīra Sunchalun. 

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first 5 limbs of raja yoga

Raja Yoga, the “Royal Yoga,” is a combination of all other yoga disciplines and the science of God-realization with a step-by-step means of reuniting the soul with the Spirit.

Paramahamsa Yogananda

As I introduce you to the eight fold path of Rāja Yoga, it is a pleasure for me to study it with you – again.Though I promised to elaborate on the first 5 limbs, this is still only a broad synopsis. It is best to study each limb separately to understand how to use them in everyday interactions. The first five limbs are referred to as the external limbs, Bahiranga Sadhana and are to be practiced simultaneously. They are considered external because these limbs affect our relationship with the outside world. The first five limbs, Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama and Pratyahara are the foundation of Rāja Yoga.

Yama and Niyama, are the principles of right conduct and lifestyle, the dos and don’ts – referred to as the moral disciplines or ethics of yoga. They are a very important part in the practice of Rāja Yoga – a part that I have come to rely on. The 10 ethics are:

दश नीति

Ten Ethics

यम Restraints नियम Observances
अहिंसा Non-Harming शौच Purity
सत्य Truth सन्तोष Contentment
अस्तेय Non-Stealing तपस् Effort
ब्रह्मचर्य Moderation स्वाध्याय Self-Study
अपरिग्रह Non-Hoarding ईश्वरप्रणिधान Surrender

Yama

The first limb, Yama, यम, frequently referred to as restraints or disciplines. Yama, restraint, deals with those behaviors that show respect for self and others. Using the word restraint may imply taking away certain privileges to be in a yogic frame of mind. On the contrary – it is much more that. I discovered that cultivating restraints is really cultivating the ability to manage my feelings – the ability to stop myself from doing or saying things that are not sensible or correct.

I have included multiple meanings for each of the Yama and Niyama, as Samskritham (Sanskrit) terms tend to have multiple meanings. It is also difficult to find an exact translation for each term, while preserving its authenticity.

यम

Restraints

अहिंसा       (Ahimsa) Non-Harming, Non-Violence, Kindness, Dynamic Peacefulness
सत्य          (Sathya) Truth, Authenticity, Sincerity, Benevolence
अस्तेय       (Astheya) Non-Stealing, Honesty, Abundance
ब्रह्मचर्य      (Brahmacharya) Moderation, Continence, Dedicated to the Divine
अपरिग्रह     (Aparigraha) Non-Hoarding, Self reliance, Renouncing, Simplicity, Generosity

The first Yama is Ahimsa, non-harming.  Alice Christensen stated that Ahimsa is listed as the first discipline because the practice of the other nine ethics depended on it.  According to her, when trying to practice the second ethic, Satya, truthfulness, lying to myself is a form of harming; or in the practice of the third ethic, Asteya, non-stealing, wasting my time is stealing from myself which is harming. Slowly, with tedious practice, I finally began to notice that practicing Ahimsa has helped me to stay ahead in the practice of other ethics. This doesn’t mean I remembered to do it all the time.

In the beginning, I entrusted the job of reminding me to the most reliable person I knew at that time – my 5 year old. In her own direct way and without hesitation she would remind me that I was not practicing Ahimsa – yes, you guessed it – I was arguing with my better half. My first reaction was to get upset with her reminders, which again is not Ahimsa. She would say “But you told me to remind you,” and start to cry. Of course, I would melt, give her a hug, to which she would sweetly add – “I’m sorry too, mommy,”- another reminder – to forgive myself for the slip-up. What a sweet and effective taskmaster! This went on for a while before she lost interest.

Eknath Easwaran said taking “my life is a school” approach, would provide numerous opportunities to experiment with the eight fold path. Whether it be marriage or rearing a child, each phase of life – midlife or teenage – provides its own challenges to practice Ahimsa. This was the best practical advice to bring the 8 limbs to life. With this attitude, obstacles became opportunities. When I did catch myself practicing Ahimsa, my nightly reflection was filled with gratitude. In this way, each conclusion – success or failure, charted my progress, deepened my faith in the tools and boosted my confidence to continue on the path.

In Rāja Yoga, the traditional practice of Yamas is equated to taking a vow, an earnest promise dedicated to the practice – called Mahavratham, Great Vow, by Patanjali in the yogic text, Yoga Sutra (2:31). This implies the seriousness of accepting the responsibility of the practice of Yamas, without the limitations of time, space, season, family, country, etc.; meaning although forgiveness is paramount, excuses are not entertained when Mahavratham, the Great Vow is activated.

Niyama

The second limb, Niyama, नियम, referred to as Observances, are those behaviors that convey positive self action. Niyama, Observance, is the act of perceiving and respecting the requirements of the laws of nature while recognizing our human imperfections and self centeredness. It helps to cultivate gratitude and sacredness towards daily activities and makes us rely on the tools to bring us closer to spiritual bliss, 8th limb, Samadhi.

नियम

Observances

शौच                 (Shaucha) Purity, Cleanliness, Clarity
सन्तोष               (Santosha) Contentment, Peacefulness
तपस्                  (Tapas) Effort, Heat, Discipline, Sacrifice
स्वाध्याय             (Svadhyaya) Self-Study, Reflection, Introspection
ईश्वरप्रणिधान      (Ishvara Pranidhana) Surrender, Faith, Gratitude, Devotion, Higher Purpose

The first Niyama is Shaucha, Purity or Cleanliness, which is both external and internal. The external concept of Shaucha suggests a clean body through daily ablutions, clean surroundings (owned and public), along with fresh and clean food to purify the body. Anger, hate, prejudice, greed, pride, fear, negative thoughts are toxins to body and mind. Hence, internal Shaucha includes purity of speech, emotions and the mind. Only with mastery of Shaucha, progress within the internal limbs can be witnessed.

Asana

The third limb is Asana, pose. It took me a long time to realize that Asana in Rāja Yoga, is not the same asana that we do in yoga classes each week. In class, I was taught how to align my body and move in a sequence of poses as in Surya Namaskar, Sun Salutations. I also learnt that the poses worked on both lengthening and strengthening of my muscles and joints. I noticed that there were variations within each asana. These variations could be created and supported by yoga props. Some asanas were simple and others were advanced. They were grouped into standing, seated, balance and lying down asanas. They are also grouped as forward bends, side bends, twists, backbends, inversions. This was only the beginning.

yoga_silhouette_vector_179799

I realized that the world of asanas was so vast and overwhelming that I could easily forget about all the other limbs and just be consumed by this 3rd limb. Amidst all this, I discovered that in the text Yoga SutrasPatanjali simply instructs us to find one comfortable and stable seated position; he calls this position Asana. Nowhere does he mention groups of asanas or their variations. Out of 196 sutras, only one (Y.S. 2:46) is dedicated to asana.

Pranayama

The fourth limb is Pranayama, प्राणायाम. It is a disciplined practice of controlling and mastering the breath. In yoga, the breath is considered as the source of the body’s vital life force, prana. Although, Patanjali states pranayama as means of attaining higher states of awareness, it is not very popular in asana classes.

Since the process of Pranayama is concerned with the breathing, it is the indicator of good health. If it is done incorrectly, it will cause harm to the person.  For example, there are heating and cooling pranayama practices. Since our breath is tied to our emotions, these practices may abnormally enhance or deplete these emotional energies in the body. This fear dissuades many from starting the practice. Another reason for its unpopularity is possibly the absence of teachers who can teach it correctly. A knowledgeable teacher is observant of the students’ personality, and behaviors before teaching them the correct sequence of the breathing practices. This does not mean that it is a difficult process, or it cannot be learnt. But, when it is done correctly, you can experience wonderful benefits.

Breathe

As with asana, a similar confusion exists with Patanjali’s instruction in Pranayama. Patanjali only instructs the student to observe and slow the breath down to the point where one cannot distinguish between the inhalation and the exhalation (Y.S. 2:49). To clearly understand this instruction and apply it to practice is where you need an experienced teacher. The numerous asanas as postures and Pranayama as breathing exercises were developed much later as part of the Hata Yoga system of mastering the body to still the mind. Ashtanga Yoga teacher Pattabhi Jois used to explain this sutra 2:49 as “When asana is mastered, pranayma begins.” Unfortunately, this is not the preferred practice.

Pratyahara

The fifth limb, Pratyahara, is the practice of drawing the mind’s focus away from the external senses to the inner workings of the body and mind. The word ahara means “nourishment”; Pratyahara translates as “to withdraw oneself from that which nourishes the senses.” Although nourishment implies to provide adequate sustenance to foster health, in this case, feeding the senses will only steer us away from the inner poise and daily yogic practicesTherefore, withdrawing from sense temptations to support the practice is the nourishment referred to in Pratyahara. Eknath Easwaran teaches this concept as training the senses to come under our control instead of being slaves to them.

Yogis declare that the information gathered through the senses – eyes, ears, nose, mouth and skin are not reliable. Ordinarily, the senses are the masters rather than being our servants. They entice us to develop cravings. Each of the senses invokes deep desire which provokes us to act according to our likes and dislikes leading to short-lived happiness or distress. To avoid pitfalls, we have to cultivate the habit of witnessing and deciphering the right message the senses are trying to convey to us. This is the first step in Pratyahara.

Have you ever felt tired after returning from the mall? Bob, my teacher at Yogalife Institute, says the tiredness comes from the draining of prana, life force energy, through our eyes just by window shopping. Getting to know how my eyes behaved at the mall, or at a dinner party, and the role the mind plays in executing the action after the eyes have made their capture, has been enlightening. In the beginning, besides window shopping, looking longingly at a brownie and having to stop myself from eating it, was equally draining. It is not so bad now, and I am still learning to detach from that tempting object, a.k.a. chocolate brownie to stop prana leakage but enjoy an occasionally treat without a conflict. Just when I thought I had conquered one temptation, the eyes have made another capture – this time under the alias of jalapeño chips, lurking on the next table, waiting to reel me in. Depending on our list, Pratyahara can become a lifelong practice.

The next step, Gurudev counsels, is the effort of withdrawing attachment to external objects.  This practice of Pratyahara provides me with an opportunity to step back and take a closer look at my habits. It forces me to objectively observe my likes and dislikes, and my cravings: essentially, habits that are detrimental to my health and which interfere with Abhyasa. I am working hard to draw my attention away from the world of temptations, one stimulus at a time. Of course, this is easier said than done.

Like everyone else my practice began with asana, poses, falsely believing it is the easiest and most tangible place to start. But I quickly realized that asanas are not that easy – especially when I saw others doing them better and when I couldn’t do many of the advanced asanas. That’s when the code of ethics became more important than the asana practice. I was told to practice Yamas and Niyamas concurrently, so I could lose the attitude of competitiveness, pride and self-criticism in asana and pranayama practice. It is through the movement of the body, asana, and the movement of the breath, pranayama and restraining our senses through pratyahara that we begin to enter the gates of silence and access the mind. Hence, these 5 limbs must be practiced simultaneously, to prepare the mind for internal practices, Antaranga Sadhana, the next 3 limbs.

Focussing on the first five limbs of Rāja Yoga, helped me to begin trusting the process. I resolved to set the Yamas or Niyamas as my intention, sankalpa. This way I could constantly and mindfully rehearse one or two of them everyday on a short-term rotation schedule. This has made the practice efficient and manageable. Of course, it is still a long and bumpy road to destination Bliss filled with failures and short lived successes. But the path itself is clear, as long as I bring the right attitude and diligence to the practice. And, in my opinion, assigning adorable taskmasters to assist is mandatory for success.

The idea is to make the practice of the five limbs a habit, so they become the most important part of my life. Only then I can confidently declare that I am living a yogic lifestyle.

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Bell, Charlotte.2007. Mindful Yoga Mindful Life. Rodmell Press

Christensen, Alice. 1998. Yoga of the Heart: Ten Ethical Principles for Gaining Limitless Growth, Confidence and Achievement. American Yoga Association

Kriyananda, Swami. 2011. The Art and Science of Raja Yoga. Crystal Clarity Publishers (2 volumes)