THE YAMAS & NIYAMAS
A home-study guide - Investigating the meaning and direct application of the fundamental principles of yoga to physical practice, and to life.
HOMESTUDY GUIDE 1
Read the notes we have provided:
2. Learn the first 4 of Patanjali's sutras (1.1-1.4 on the document linked above) and then practice, contemplating the relevance and potential meaning of each part of what you read. more...
3. Learn the Sanskrit names and meanings of the 8 limbs of yoga in a similar spirit.
4. Once again, but this time with the 5 Yamas (principles) & 5 Niyamas (practices), learning the Sanskrit and English names of each. Apply yourself to the physical practice of yoga with each one individually, to help become clear about their meaning.
Submit your conclusions from the practical investigation of the Yamas and Niyamas to us: It can be in the form of an essay, a video, a mood-board, or whatever you feel would best express your personal take on things. Keep things succinct and to-the-point. If it is a written essay, less than a single A4 page is sufficient for us to 'get the feel' of your work.
Please submit your final offering via email to Abigail at
Your submission can be Word format, or you can just paste the text into the body of the email. Please include your name, date of submission and ‘Yamas & Niyamas’ in both the subject of the email, and the title of your document if it is an attachment.
If it is a video, please upload it to Vimeo and send Abigail the link. If you have made a mood board or spiralgram or whatever expression, please photograph it and send via email. Even if Abigail needs to see it in person she also needs to keep a record of all submissions for accreditation purposes.
If you need some help...
But if you just need structured guidance on how to explore the Yamas and Niyamas in your practice, it is offered below.
Once you are prepped and ready to practice directly with the Yamas and Niyamas, assign one day's practice to each of the following combinations, taking notes when you notice something significant to you:
Day 1: Tapas (niyama: whole-heartedness), with Ahimsa (yama: non-conflict)
Day 2: Svadiyaha (niyama: self-study), with Aparigraha (yama: non-grasping)
Day 3: Sauca (niyama: cleanse) with Bramacarya (yama: economy of effort - not to be confused with non-action)
Day 4: Isvara Pranidhana (niyama: surrender - to something greater than your own story - perhaps to the intelligence of what you are doing..) with Asteya (yama: non-stealing, i.e.make it your own - don't try to impose someone else's idea on the practice of surrender)
Day 5: Santosa (niyama: acceptance/contentment) with Satya (yama: honesty, seeking of truth)
So, there are 5 individual days of practice with one of the above combinations for your central theme of practice for the day. Don’t worry if you go of topic, just gently bring yourself back to the intent of the day.
Spend a half hour or an hour on each combined theme and carry a sense of it through the day.
Jot down notes of significance as they come to you during and after your practice, or indeed through the day after practice.
When you have completed each of the 5 days, which don’t have to be consecutive or in order, for each of the Yama and Niyama pairings, write a line or short paragraph from the following perspectives:
1) How that Yama/Niyama applies to your practice and you have a good sense of it
2) How that Yama/Niyama applies to your practice and you really struggle with it
3) How that Yama/Niyama applies to you in your daily life
Ahimsa – non-violence
1) I find ahimsa really useful in my explorations of pranayama and this principal leads me to greater depth and subtlety.
2) I really struggle with ahimsa when I practice king pigeon because I forget my back leg. Consequently I have hurt my left knee quite badly on a couple of occasions while grasping (not using aparigraha) in the posture.
3) Ahimsa in my speech is something I work on much of the time and it is worth the effort because it soothes my connection with my loved ones and leads to closer bonding.
There are no right or wrong answers, your exploration of the principles is both the point, and what we are interested in hearing about.
**Please feel free to go as deep as you like into the sutras
If you find your curiosity peaked, you may wish to dive into the Jnana Yoga of direct study (but not at the expense of practice please! As far as this School is concerned practice is the only way to truly understand)
The link below takes you to a pdf listing all of the sutras together with links to a website that goes deep into their own investigation of what each sutra might mean. But please don't take these interpretations, or ours for that matter, as gospel. All information available is for you to feel into in your own direct way, to see if you can discover your own truth.