Restraints and Observances

I finished reading “The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice” by Deborah Adele.  This was a late addition to the list of texts for Eastside’s Yoga Teacher Training.  Dianne said that she was so taken by the book that she devoured it in it in two days!

Opened it up just before I went for my camping weekend and tried to savour the chapters.  I wanted to let the impression of the first reading sink into my subconscious.  To let the ideas ride alongside of my everyday actions.  To see how these concepts would fit into my everyday life.  Took about a week to finish the book.

Too many ideas to be absorbed.  I needed to be able to read a chapter and then put it down.  Let the words sink in.  And repeat this several times over.

And surprisingly enough, I found that these yogic tenets for life seemed to fit.  Although the book has some religious references (Deborah’s husband is a Lutheran minister), I didn’t read it with that interpretation.  Easy to get through with lots of examples, some that were a bit brief if you didn’t know where the reference was coming from.  Overall, I tried to take it as one viewpoint for a guide to living.

These are my interpretations of the five yamas or “restraints”:

ahimsa (nonviolence) – not causing harm through our relationship to self and others

satya (truthfulness) – talking, acting and being real without being hurtful

asteya (nonstealing) – not taking away from self and others

brahmacharya (nonexcess) – knowing when enough is enough

aparigraha (nonposessiveness) – letting go; not clinging to things, people & ideas.

And for the five niyamas or “observances”:

saucha (purity) – decluttering to allow for a “clean slate” of awareness

santosha (contentment) – enjoying what is already available

tapas (self-discipline) – developing character by walking through the “fire” of life’s journey

svadhyaya (self-study) – knowing self and how it came to be this way

ishvara pranidhana (surrender) – trusting the universe/life.

Deborah likes to call each of these a “jewel” because she considers them 10 little gems of yogic wisdom for how to live skillfully.

As I moved through the chapters, I was mentally bookmarking episodes in my life that represented each yama and niyama.  I should’ve made notes of my thoughts as I read but I didn’t want to turn it into work.  Maybe it would be better to devote a blog post to each yama and niyama?  Seems a like daunting task.

I really shouldn’t think of it way.  My intention with this blog is to investigate and explore what yoga has to offer.  When I go back and reread, I’ll take some time then and write about the thoughts that surface…