The Niyamas (one of the 8 limbs of yoga) refer to the self observations that we make within our own lives. There are five of these in total –
1. TAPAS –
The word tapas in Sanskrit comes from the root word tap – meaning heat or fire. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – there is a beautiful analogy which explains the purification process of gold. Every time gold is heated the impurities that lie within it are removed and the gold becomes more refined. Similarly in our lives we come across situations which cause friction (heat) within our lives and it is through these processes that we learn, grow and become more refined. In a purely physical sense – that burning sensation that you feel when you’ve been holding Warrior II for THAT bit too long?… tapas my friend. Endure it. You will come out better on the other side for it. In Spanish, tapas refers to cheeses and olives and other pieces of bite-size deliciousness. Not necessarily the same thing.
Apart from basic hygiene (which should be pretty standard in any case – you dirty monkey), Saucha can refer to the purity of and cleanliness of the mind. Learn to recognise negative thoughts when they arise so that we can detach ourselves from them and bring our minds back to their natural pure state.
Contentment. It seems like this should be a pretty obvious one – but I think that these days true contentment is often overshadowed by “I need more“. Everything that you need to be truly happy is here right now. Anything that you think you need to be happy (new car, better job, more time, vacation etc) will only turn into something else when you get it. Be grateful for what you have NOW so that you can cultivate a sense of true contentment in your life. Gratitude is a conscious practice – every. single. day. List three things you’re grateful for today. Out loud. Right now.
Svadhyaya refers to self study. It is only through REALLY knowing ourselves, our flaws, our weaknesses and the things that make us AWESOME that we can realise our full potential. All learning must be coupled with practice and stillness so that we can truly embody the things we wish to impart to others. Reflect on experiences in your life. What have you learnt? What could you learn? What is it about yourself that needs improvement? What positive affirmation can you give yourself today? How can you learn? Who are the people that you can surround yourself with that encourage this? How can you grow? What is your purpose and where do you want to be in this life? How can you be the best possible version of yourself? #somebodystopmeisoundlikeoprah
5. ISVARA PRANIDHANA
Devotion to the universal. This is recognising that there is something greater than you – that you are part of a complete whole. It is your ego that puts you at the centre of your universe. Let that thought go – learn to recognise and acknowledge the light in others. Serve others selflessly.