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Niyama - Patanjali’s Second Limb of Yoga

Moving to Patañjali second limb of yoga brings us to Niyama which are personal behaviors and observances.

Sharing my intepretations on the 5 niyamas as I realize how challenging it is to work on ourselves. This is where it all starts and ends, so here goes…

Saucha (Cleanliness of mind, body and environment)
Cleansing of the physical body (external and internal), our spoken words, our emotions and thoughts. It’s to achieve adoration (bhakti), purity and well-being that are consistent from our thoughts to our actions. This is probably my favorite teaching as it touches on the need to be aligned throughout our chakras internally and how we connect externally with our environment (including where we live, what we eat and who we associate with). Find myself more observant of my thoughts, feelings, words and actions.

Santosa (Contentment)
Being contented gives bliss, therefore the focus should be on finding joy in what we have. It’s said that if we trust the Divine that we have what’s needed, thus we lack nothing and can find true tranquility. I find contentment easy on a material level but not on a spiritual level – i.e. I’m very happy with what I have as of today but meanwhile desire greater growth and development as a person. Maybe it’s a matter of taking a step back and appreciating that in time, all will be achieved and revealed bit by bit.

Tapas (Discipline)
Major discipline of using our energy to purify the heart and create union with the Divine. We strive to attain strength in body, character and mind to lead a life of courage and love. For me, tapas is all about perseverance and determination towards achieving union with the Divine. It’s about reminding myself daily that the obstacles are but tests in the way of our ultimate goal. Progress should also be celebrated as we keep going towards being disciplined.

Svadhyaya (Self-Study)
Svadhyaya is about learning from my own book of life, acknowledging that I am one with the universe and that everyone/everything is equally part of me. This would include owning the circumstances I’m in while being conscious of my strengths and weaknesses. It’s about not blaming others or society. This means turning inwards, taking responsibility and make necessary adaptations and changes as needed.

Isvara Pranidhana (Devotion to the Divine)
Having faith, filling my soul with adoration (bhakti) and bowing to the Divine. For me, this is the undying devotion and dedication to an omnipresent force, trusting that it’s our guide. To be free from greed and attachment daily would be the challenge. I aim to remember the Divine as I stare into the sea and sky, being reminded that we really are here on earth for a larger purpose of achieving divine unity and peace. I can start with the people I’m interacting with on this course as I expand to my loved ones and friends.

One's destination is never a place
but rather a new way of looking at things.

- Henry Miller