Posts Tagged ‘niyamas’

Asanas – Body postures

April 9, 2010

Asanas are designed to free our mind and body from tension and stress.  It relaxes, rejuvenates, and energizes the body and aims to bring the body and the mind into a harmonious union. Asanas should be done with comfort, ease, alertness and steadiness, achieving a balance between ease and effort.  The practice of moving the body into postures helps in improving health, strength, balance and flexibility. On a deeper level, the practice of asana, which means staying or abiding in Sanskrit, is used as a means to calm the mind and move into the inner essence of being.

Warm-up poses

Neck rolls, Shoulder lifts, cat and cow

Standing poses

Triangle Pose, Standing Side Stretch Pose, Warrior Pose, and Sun Salutation

Seated poses

Spread Leg Forward Fold, Hero Pose, Seated Forward Bend, and Child Pose

Twist poses

Half-Spinal Twist and Sage Twist

Supine poses

Leg Reclining Lunge, Locust Pose, Leg Raises, and Wind Relieving Pose

Inverted poses

Shoulderstand, Headstand, Downdog and Plough

Balance Poses

Tree, Eagle, Big Toe Balance, and Dancer’s Pose


Camel, Cobra, Wheel, and Bridge

Finishing poses

Corpse Pose or Savasana

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Svadhyaya – Self study & sacred study of the Divine

January 22, 2010

Svadhyaya- Sva means “self’ adhyaya means “inquiry” or “examination”. Any activity that cultivates self-reflection is svadhyaya. It means to intentionally find self-awareness in all our activities and efforts, even to the point of welcoming and accepting our limitations. It teaches us to be centered.  Svadhyaya is about making time to know ourselves better. The more honestly we know ourselves, the more we are able to be in control of our moods and emotions

Some of the primary sacred texts would the The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, or the Bhagavad Gita

Things you can try to practice

Try writing your feelings down every day in a journal

Try writing a gratitude journal (3-5 things you are grateful for everyday)

Notice how you feel (body, mind & spirit)

Try something meditative:  running, knitting, hiking, playing music, sketching…

Affirmation for Tapas
I am a life long learner
I study to develop my higher self

I gather in truth with other spiritual beings
I live a life of reflection

Journal Writing Exercises:

What ways do you practice Svadhyaya?

How can you further engage in study and reflection?

When do you meet with others of like consciousness?  How often do you do so?

What form of prayer, mantra, or japa do you engage in?  What is it’s effect on you?

Yoga Posture for Svadhyaya:  Balasana, child’s pose

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Tapas – Austerity or Discipline

December 14, 2009

Tapas the activity of keeping the body fit or to confront and handle inner urges. It means to heat the body and, by so doing, to cleanse it. Tapas is also the cultivation of spiritual fire and passion. We can direct our energy to engage life and achieve our ultimate goal of creating union with the Divine. Tapas helps us to burn up all the desires that stand in our way of this goal.  Another form of tapas attention to body posture, eating habits and breathing patterns. Tapas includes specific practices, like fasting, holding silence, controlling the breath.

Things you can try to practice Tapas


Take time to breath deep.  Try focusing on your breath every time you glance at the clock

Go through a day without TV, computers or phones

Be silent for an hour or a day

Practice some kind of spirituality today

Affirmation for Tapas

I am in control of my bodily desires

I am mindful of my speech

I have a burning desire to reach my goals

I am disciplined in my spiritual endeavors

Journal Writing Exercises:

What techniques to you use to control your mind?

What is a current situation in your life that you need to apply greater discipline?

How have you used Tapas to achieve goals in the past?

How can you deepen your experience of Tapas?

Yoga Posture for Tapas: Surya Namaskar, Sun Salutation

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Santosha – Contentment

November 30, 2009

Santosha is being content with what we have. Santosha means to be at peace within and content with one’s life through all kinds of circumstances. There is a purpose for everything. It means being happy with what we have rather than being unhappy about what we don’t have.  Santosh, is to live in the moment, to be present. Do not focus on what you should have done or what you expect to do. Just be here now.

In south India, instead of saying thank you, they say “santosha” meaning “I am content.”

Things you can try to practice Santosha

Make the most of a negative situation

Spend time in a place of contentment today (walk in nature, hold hands with someone you love)

Do something co combat stress, practice yoga or meditate

Look for ways this week to actively “choose peace” in your thoughts about yourself and others

Affirmation for Santosha

I am content with myself and my life

I am grateful for everything that happens to me

I maintain balance in the face of hardships

I am a lighthearted being

Journal Writing Exercises:

What percent of the time are you content with yourself and your life?

What undermines your contentment?

When have you remained centered in the midst of negativity?

List reasons to be grateful

Yoga Posture for Santosha: Virasana or the Hero posture.

This one is difficult. If you can sit in Virasana and find contentment, you learn that contentment is not always an easy place.

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Saucha: Purity and Cleanliness (Niyama)

November 16, 2009

Niyama – Personal Observances

The first niyama is saucha, cleanliness of body, heart, mind and environment. Saucha has both an inner and an outer aspect. Outer cleanliness simply means keeping ourselves, our bodies clean. Inner cleanliness has to do with the clarity of our mind. Saucha is cleansing the mind of its disturbing emotions like hatred, passion, anger, lust, greed, and pride.  Practicing Saucha, we are forthright, open and clear in our actions and interactions.

Things you can try to practice Saucha

Notice what you take in as food, through all channels, mouth, ears, eyes and mind

Include plenty of fresh, unprocessed foods and pure water in your diet

Try letting go of some toxic people in your life

Try a day with out perfume or cologne

Clean your work area of clutter

Affirmation for Saucha

My heart is pure

My mind is clear

My environment is neat and clean

I eat consciously

I am an immaculate being

Journal Writing Exercises:

What are some of your habits that violate Saucha?  How can you overcome these habits?

Look at the condition of your car, desk, closets, you home, what improvements can  you make?

What thoughts do you have that are impure, or negative?  How can you transform these thoughts?

How can you simplify your life?

Yoga Posture for Saucha: Seated Ardha Matsyendrasana or the half spinal twist.

This posture is like squeezing out a washcloth, releasing the old, and then making space for the new to enter our body.

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The Eight Limbs of Raja Yoga

September 25, 2009

Compiled by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, the Eight Limbs are a progressive series of steps or disciplines which purify the body and mind, to enlightenment.

1. Yamas- Restraints
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The five Yamas are:

Ahimsa: nonviolence, non-harming

Satya: truthfulness

Asteya: nonstealing

Brahmacharya: Moderation

Aparigraha: Non-attachment, Non-possessiveness

2. Niyama– Observances
Self-discipline and spiritual observances.

The five Niyamas are:

Saucha: cleanliness, Purity

Santosa: contentment

Tapas: dicipline, austerity

Svadhyaya: study of the sacred scriptures and of one’s self

Isvara pranidhana: surrender to God, awareness of the divine

3. Asana– evolution of your personal practice
Asanas, the postures practiced in yoga.

View Asana Posts HERE

4. Pranayama– Breathing
Breath control

View Pranayama Posts HERE

5. Pratyahara– Drawing senses inward (prepares us for dharana)
Withdrawal or sensory transcendence, the conscious effort to draw our awareness away from the external world and outside stimuli.

6. Dharana– concentration (prepares us for Dhyana)
dealing with the distractions of the mind itself.

7. Dhyana- Meditation or contemplation (leads to Samadhi)
The uninterrupted flow of concentration.

View Meditation Posts HERE

8. Samadhi– Superconsciousness
One with everything

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