Niyama or code of living or laws for personal observance is not an exercise to be completed but an attitude. As one of the Äshtanga of yoga, as per Patanjali, Niyamas are more personal than Yamas. These are the rules of righteous living that an individual adopts for his or her own to achieve higher spiritual self. There are five Niyamas to follow and these include:
1- Sauca (means purity): Symbolizing cleanliness and purity, Sauca stands for inner and outer purity that is, purity of the mind and body. Inner cleanliness encompasses free functioning of the body and pure thinking and clarity of the mind. As per the attainment of inner peace and purity or Sauca, practicing yogic asanas and pranayama is essential as it tones the complete body and there is constant removal of toxins, leaving the body clean. Additionally, Pranayama helps to clean the lungs and respiratory track, enriching the blood with higher levels of oxygen and cleansing the nervous system. However, these yoga asanas and pranayama act on the emotional and mental plain helping in the renunciation of negative thoughts and disturbing emotions such as lust, greed, passion, anger and pride.
2. Santosa (Satisfaction and Contentment)
The next niyama is being santosa or being satisfied and contented with what you have. It signifies inner peace and happiness in your own lifestyle by being contented. Even when there is difficulty, accept and overcome them as part of your spiritual growth while staying satisfied within your circumstances. It is important to accept that there is specific purpose for all that happens and it is termed as Karma in yoga. Acceptance of whatever happens can help cultivate satisfaction and contentment. Thus, you learn about being happy with what you have than hankering on things that you lack.
3. Tapas – (Energy use)
This stage refers to the control of inner urges and keeping the body fit and healthy. Tapas mean heat of the body which is then used to clear and purify it by controlling the physical urges and directing the energy to ultimately connecting with the spiritual aspects. The heat energy or Tapas burns away the materialistic desires paving way for spiritual growth. Additionally, it is about proper dietary habits, attention to the breathing and body postures.
4. Svadhyaya or Swadhyaya – (Self introspection or study)
The next niyama is self-introspection or Svadhyaya which is also interpreted as examination or self-study. The activities which lead to self-discovery through conscious reflections is considered Svadhyaya. To intentionally embark on a journey of self-realization by looking into each activity that is undertaken, accepting the limitations teaches the individual to end unwanted feelings and tendencies.
5. Isvarapranidhana or Isvara Pranidhana – (Celebrate Spiritual living)
Translated as all actions are laid in front of God, Isvarapranidhana means to get attuned to the God’s will for growth. It recognizes the spiritual attainments are possible through our actions and an individual can attune himself or herself with the higher spiritual energies. It means acceptance of a higher energy that directly or indirectly guides our lives for better.