Yama and Niyama are both principles, and a way of life, one should practice or not.
Yama – 10 Principles
1. Ahimsa – non Violence, non-injury, and not hurting others. A person should refrain from violence, injury or hurt towards other beings. Be helpful to other beings. To feel you are here to serve others, as you would have liked to be served by them.
2. Satyam – Truth, True speaking. Satyam means to speak the truth by all circumstances. The truth should not be as benefit no one, especially not yourself. You should not gain or achieve something by speaking the truth. Admit when you don’t know something, don’t lie in order to look wise. Don’t hurt people by speaking the truth. Don’t say something even if it is true and knowing that will hurt others.
3. Asteya – Non stealing (not even by greed!) Asteya means not stealing someone else things of course, but by asteya you should also conquer the passion of greed, don’t even think about stealing, and don’t steal knowledge. Admit when you use someone else’s words.
4. Brahmacharya – Celibacy. Brahmacharya doesn’t mean only continence of sex, this is just one of different aspects of Brahmacharya. First, it doesn’t mean not to have sex at all (a family man for example), it means control of sexual energy, and also control of all actions, thoughts and behavior. Abstain from doing evil, thinking bad thoughts, take control over the actions you do.
5. Daya – Compassion Compassion means unconditional love! Love every being as it was YOU yourself! Be compassionate to other beings, lead a vegetarian life, help other beings human and animals as well, trees and flowers. Like the Lord is compassionate to all beings, that’s the way we should be towards others.
6. Arjavam – Straight forwardness. Arjavam means that thinking, speaking and doing should be in the same manner. Try to avoid contradictions between them. One should act, think and speak the same. Not to think about one thing and do the other, be true – to Yourself!
7. Kshama, Kshamatihi, Titiksha – Forgiveness, forbearance. This means patience, accommodation, endurance. This world is made of, and based on, opposites and we have to accept whatever comes our way. You can’t change a rainy cold season and turn it into a shiny summer day, accept the happening and enjoy it. Each person has its own values and value levels, one should not change other people (unless they wish to), accepting them as they are.
8. Mittha haram – Moderation. Moderation means to be moderate about food, life and actions. Eat in order to live, don’t live in order to eat. Eat sufficiently. In Yoga there are 3 kinds of eaters: 1. Yogi – eats one meal a day. 2. Bhogi – eats enough to be living (2 times a day). 3. Rogi – eats a lot in order to indulge. Take moderation to your every action, stay in the middle.
9. Saucham – Cleanliness. Cleanliness – external as well as internal. External means clothes, one’s body, house, country. One cannot practice Yoga in a dirty place. Internal cleanliness means to be clean from evil thoughts as well as deeds. Greed, jealousy, anger, hatred all are negative emotions and should be cleaned. Don’t be negative towards others.
10. Dritihi – Fortitude. Dritihi means having a strong will power not to lose our courage or good will. Having faith in what one is doing, one should not have doubts in one’s actions. Remove doubt from your Life.
Niyama – 10 Principles
1. Tapas – Penance, Austerities. Mastery over the sense organs. Have control over the sense organs, don’t be fooled by the things you see, hear and whatever comes in relation with ta sense organ. Body tapas as well as mental tapas. Tapas means heat, by practicing this principle one gets heat of Agni and by that burning his karmas.
2. Santosha – Contentment. Live Happily with what you have! Do not lose your happiness according to things that don’t satisfy you. One needs to have total happiness with what one’s got. Live happily with the body you have. Comparing is good, but only in order to evaluate good things, not jealousy and hate producing comparison.
3. Astikyam – Faith or Believing in God. Believe in the scriptures, understand God! Without belief in something nothing can approach your way.
4. Donam means giving and helping others. If you are in a position of giving – Give! If you are in a receiving position – Receive! Share things, knowledge in particular. Practice being good to other beings, offer a good advice, offer a good word to a person, help others. The point is charity is not only by means of money.
5. Ishvarapujanam – Worshipping the Lord. Appreciation towards what we have, body, world, country. Whatever we have is by the grace of the Lord. Don’t postpone worship (as some say, “in my older days I will find time to worship”), as one doesn’t know his life span. It doesn’t matter in what way you choose to worship the Lord. Meditation, Japa, or any other means (your tradition is an excellent way to worship the Lord). Don’t perform the worship for the Lord benefit, it is for you only. And as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Says : “Don’t come to the Lord a as beggar”.
6. Siddhata Svaranam – Reading material regarding to your God. Read it everyday! Read the Vedas or your Holy Bible or any other holy book. Apply what you read in your daily routine. Reading itself is very good but not sufficient, performing the acts in day to day life is important as well.
7. Harihi – Honesty and modesty. Be Honest, don’t lie in order to get pride or wisdom or for any other reason. Be honest with yourself! Don’t pretend to be something you are not or can’t do. Be modest, don’t brag! Keep pride in low profile, eliminate it.
8. Matihi, Vivekaha – Thinking Don’t take anything blindly, explore, find out for yourself, examine your discovery, experience it and then believe! Don’t go after a crowd.
9. Japa Recite a mantra 108 times minimum daily (morning, afternoon, evening). Mantra is a verse from the Vedas or a praise to the Lord, while reciting the mantra the mind focuses on it and attains concentration. Immense benefits are gained by reciting the Mantra correctly, the words when pronounced right, produce certain vibrations and the chanter feels joy and oneness. 3 kinds of Japa: Mental – by heart, no one can know the mantra chanted, silent and without moving the lips. Labial – Silent, but with uttering the words, lips are moving. Loudly – Saying the mantra out loud. Of the three Mental is of the highest form.
10. Vratham – Observing a vow, or act. Take a vow and stick to it, follow it! Control is behind it. Example: Avoid a specific food you most like for a week, or a month. And when you get a chance to eat it again, eat it moderately. I got a nice example from a Swami (Yogeshanada Saraswati Ji) in my Yoga course: when people go to Vipassana they observe noble silence for 10 days, and after the course is over, they compensate by talking for 10 days in 1 day alone! In my next post I will continue with the rest of the Angas Thank you