By Paul Jerard
Niyamas are the ethical observances of Yoga. Yoga teachers should know them by heart; they do not conflict with any law or religion.
Shaucha: To put it simply, be clean in hygiene, diet, and behavior. Hygiene and a Sattvic diet can become a daily ritual, but avoiding unhealthy or unclean thought is a daily challenge. This means controlling angry thoughts, angry actions, and suppressing the ego as much as humanly possible.
Santosha: This is commonly considered to be contentment, but it is also acceptance of life as it is. This is most difficult to attain in societies where material gain is the number one objective. Acceptance does not mean giving up but accepting what we cannot control. When we realize there is much in life that we cannot control, we open the door to inner peace.
Tapas: When we think of Tapas, the first word that comes to mind is austerity. This is fine, but Tapas is a way of life, based on fortitude, perseverance, dedication, discipline, and regular Yoga practice, put into action. Tapas will produce results, but may require you to practice Yoga, when it is much easier to eat a chocolate doughnut. One of the biggest problems with the world today is the lack of commitment toward goals.
Swadhyaya: This is taking the time to study sacred scriptures of your specific religion. The answers to all your spiritual questions can be found within them. You do not have to change your religion, but the more you read from your own religion’s scriptures, the more ways you can learn to appreciate people who practice a different religion.
If you take the time, you will see commonality in the principles of all the major religions. Jesus said, “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” All of the world’s religions have a similar saying, but who really puts the words into practice and action? Only an enlightened person would make a statement such as: “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.” This statement was made by Mohammed.
Therefore, reading and studying Holy Scriptures, mean nothing if you do not take positive action from what you learn. All of the scriptures tell us to live in peace. The worst crime against humanity is when a political or religious leader preaches hate and incites war or killing.
Ishwara Pranidhana: Acknowledge God as a supreme being by whatever name you are familiar with. Pray daily and actively participate in your religion.
© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
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