Bless you Gentle Reader and warm welcome to you if this is your first visit here. Thank you for your trust in me to deliver useful yoga and self-care tips and suggestions to you. I can imagine how full and busy your lives are, so I appreciate you taking the time to pause and read whats on offer.
As you may know the last few posts I have focused on a miniseries of Yoga For Beginners posts
Today’s post, A Beginners’ Guide To The Yoga Sutras is the last post in this series and covers the philosophical and spiritual teachings of yoga.
My daughters are keen Glee fans and as I was preparing for this post, my daughter Maleka was playing a selection of Glee songs and the song Lean On Me caught my attention. As I listened to the words, I felt the message of the song “lean on me, be a friend, share your time and energy with someone going through a hard time is an excellent example of someone living life in accordance with these great teachings.
Listen to the words and I’m sure you’ll feel the love, tenderness and care shown by the Glee Club.
What are the Yoga Sutras?
The Yoga Sutras, in particular the Eight Limbs of Yoga, offer you a framework to live an ethical and highly principled life
The Yoga Sutras is recognised as the first complete presentation of the practical and spiritual aspects of yoga. It consists of 196 threads or commentaries which bring together all the various strands and thoughts about yoga philosophy in one main literary source.
These threads cover all aspect of life, from giving guidelines on how to live a healthy industrious life right through to thoughts on how you can reach the ultimate goal of yoga – self realization.
The Eight Limbs Of Yoga
The Eight Limbs of Yoga form the ethical and philosophical foundation of your yoga practice. According to the ancient sage Patanajali, in his Yoga Sutras, yoga consists of eight limbs which he called Ashtanga Yoga. Each limb has its own identity yet still forms part of the whole system known as yoga.
The Eight Limbs or Steps of Yoga are:
1. Yama (a set of social codes for communal ethical living)
2. Niyama (guidelines for personal conduct and behaviour)
3. Asana (yoga postures)
4. Pranayama (breath control)
5. Pratyahara (withdrawal and control of the senses)
6. Dharana (concentration)
7. Dhyana (meditation)
8. Samadhi (enlightenment, self-realisation)
What Are The Yamas and Niyamas?
In addition, the Yamas and Niyamas are further broken down into 5 specific guidelines which give detailed explanations to guide you through your daily life.
The Yamas are:
The Yamas, deal with universal social and moral observations and sets out guidelines to encourage universal positive behaviours.
1. Ahimsa – Compassion and non-violence towards all beings, including animals.
2. Satya – truthfulness, speaking your truth in thoughts, words and behaviour. Basically being honest and kind
3. Asteya – Non-stealing and being generous with your thoughts and actions.
4. Brahmacharya – Self restraint, generally Brahmacharya refers to restraint of the sexual energy, however in its broadest sense, Brahmacharya means self-discipline and moderation in all areas of life.
5. Aparigraha – Non-possessiveness and non-greed. The ability to share and to have freedom from desire. For example, not to take bribes or unasked for gifts.
The five Niyamas are:
The Niyamas are more personal observations and relate to actions which you, as an individual are encouraged to do
1. Shauca – Cleanliness, keeping yourself and immediate environment clean and tidy.
2. Samtosha – Contentment, being satisfied and accepting of your immediate situation; the ideal behind Samtosha is to allow yourself to be happy and appreciate all the blessings and tribulations in your life, yet at the same time to strive towards spiritual enlightenment.
3. Tapas – Relates to self-discipline; the ability to stay focused and maybe go without certain possessions in order to grow, develop and care for yourself and others, .e.g. Tapas could relate to a child giving up sweets for a period of time and giving that money instead to a local charitable cause.
4. Svadhyaya – self study and observation of your thoughts, words and actions. It includes regular spiritual discussions and studying spiritual, philosophical literature in order to gain a richer understanding of life. It includes the ability to be reflective and introspective so that you get to know yourself on a deeper level, which helps to create clarity in your thoughts and behaviours. The more you know yourself the easier it is for you to communicate openly and honestly your desires.
5. Ishvarapranidhana – Refers to devotion to God. To constantly be aware of the sacredness of life and to hold reverence for all being.
As you can see the Yamas and Niyams offer you a set of highly thought of social and personal guidelines to consider as you strive to live a more harmonious and balanced life.
I hope you found this mini Yoga For Beginners series useful in familiarising yourself with, for example the different styles of yoga, the health benefits of yoga and have a clearer understanding of the value of the spiritual and philosophical teachings underpinning your practice.
I’m curious, is there anything else you would like to learn more about in relation to starting yoga. Share your thoughts in the comment box below and I will respond to your queries. Thank you
More Yoga Information?
If you are keen to discover more Yoga Info, check out my Starting Yoga, Look Good, Feel Great…The Complete Guide of Yoga for Beginners here on my website or over on my Amazon Kindle Bookstore