The Five Niyamas or Observances
The Fifth Yama: Aparigraha, Freedom from Greed and Desire
Practicing Aparigraha means becoming aware of the endless craving and dissatisfaction of the egoic self and choosing to renounce it. The true Self needs nothing, is always profoundly fulfilled and content just resting in its true nature. The ego is always hungry, always feeling like something is missing, always in a state of dis-ease.
The Fourth Yama: Brahmacarya
The fourth Yama or Restraint is Brahmacarya, which traditionally is the name given to the practice of celibacy. Historically yogis renounced the life of a householder, choosing to forsake marriage and family to live the life of a renunciate in forrest communities. Rather than repress their sexual energy, they would consciously transmute this energy for higher spiritual pursuits.
The Third Yama: Asteya, non Stealing, non coveting
This, at first, may seem obvious but when one thinks of it more deeply, there are many ways in which we take what isn't ours. It could be stealing time or energy from others, such as when we call someone up and start talking their ear off, without asking if it's a good time to talk. It could be taking resources from the planet, without replacing them.
The second Yama: Satya,Truth or truthfulness
The second Yama or ethical retraint is Satya, which means Truth or truthfulness. To live in Satya, we must be interested in what is True. Finding out what is really True about the nature of existence demands a lot of deep soul-searching and help and guidance from others who have charted the territory. Read more
The First Yama: Ahimsa, Non-Harming
The first limb of Yoga’s eight limbed path towards Enlightenment is Yamas or ethical restraints. There are five ethical restraints. The first one is Ahimsa, which means non-violence. This means non-violence on all levels, from the gross to the subtle. If we were all practicing this in earnest, it would be the end of any of the serious problems, with which the world is afflicted. We would all be practicing peace and generosity. Read more
Yogic Lifestyle: The Eight Limbs of Yoga
What is a yogic lifestyle? Is a yogi a vegan wearing Earth shoes who carries an eco-friendly yoga mat and a copy of Yoga Journal in their organic hemp yoga bag? Or is a yogi an ascetic, living on the banks of the Ganges, practicing intensive pranayama and meditation and sleeping on a bed of nails? In the end these are only outward appearances. What counts, I think, is where the person is coming from. What motivates them? How deeply do they consider what they are doing and why? Read more
The Yogic Diet
Yoga is a very holistic approach to health and many guidelines about personal hygene and diet can be found in the ancient yogic texts. I feel strongly that regular practice of yoga, coupled with a wholesome diet is the way to optimal health. There are obviously many different ideas about what the best diet is and it can be confusing. It does take constant interest and research to really make some clear decisions about what to eat and what not to eat. And of course, new research is being done on nutrition constantly. Here’s some yogic philosophy on good diet, coupled with some of my own extensive research. Read more