Intermediate Yoga 45 minutes
Yoga for Hips, Ankles, Knees through the Niyamas : The Eight Limbs of Yoga Series, Yoga with Melissa 225
2:28 “By the practice of the limbs of yoga, the impurities dwindle away and there dawns the light of wisdom leading to discriminative discernment.” The practice of the eight limbs of yoga will not bring you anything new, they will simply remove what is unnecessary and as the impurities dwindle, the wisdom that already resides within you will emerge.
The second limb of the eight limbs of yoga are the niyamas. They are purity (saucha), contentment (santosha), discipline (tapas ), self-study (svadhyaya, and surrender to God (Isvara Pranidhana). These restraints are important for spiritual aspirants.
Last week we spoke of yoga taking place on more than just the physical level. This is definitely true for the second limb of yoga, the niyamas as well. Saucha or purity refers to purifying what we allow into our bodies, minds, emotions, energy, spirits, as well as cleaning up any toxins that may already be present. Saucha refers to both internal and external cleanliness in our lives.
We can use our yoga practice to clear our bodies of toxic food from our digestive system and organs. Then in order to maintain a toxic free body it is up to us to make sure we take in only the purest cleanest foods that are easy for our bodies to digest and assimilate.
Extend your practice of saucha/cleanliness to your yoga space and home by clearing your space both physically and energetically before practice. Clear your space of clutter. Consider using sage or incense. This will cleanse and purify your space and remove any negative energy.
Mental toxins rob us of energy anything that goes against the yamas – ahimsa – (loving kindness), satya = (truthfulness), aesteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya = (non-productive use of energy), aparigraha (non-hoarding) – can unsettle our mind, emotions and spirit. Through practicing mindfulness, awareness, meditation, and prayer we can clear these mental toxins and find peace and mental serenity.
The second niyama is santosha or contentment. There is no contentment when we are caught up in the regret of past or worried about the future. Contentment also elludes us when we are distracted by acquiring or achieving the next thing. Contentment only exists in the present moment. When our thoughts and actions are rooted in the present moment we can experience contentment. Santosha means we accept what life brings us.
The third niyama is tapas and refers to discipline or the intense commitment that is required on the yogic path. Tapas doesn’t mean that something is difficult, but more that you have the perseverance and acceptance to see yourself through the challenging times. It might be easier to say yes to a glass of wine at the end of the day to relax for example rather to go to your yoga mat. It takes tapas or discipline to have a glass of water and roll out your mat.
The fourth niyama, svadhayaya, is study of the Self. It is important to find a teacher that can help us understand the teachings of yoga in a way that we can relate to and understand. At the same time, it is also necessary to practice the previous niyama, tapas, and be honest about our journey to Self-discovery, realizing that sometimes we may be uncomfortable and should not simply dismiss teachings because of our personal discomfort. Reverend Carrera Jaganath, author of Inside the Yoga Sutras, suggests weighing our doubts against the evidence of the thousands of yogis who have transformed their lives following the teachings of yoga. Repetition of a mantra can be one of the most powerful ways to steady your mind and turn inwards towards Self Discovery.
Isvara Pranidhana, the fifth niyama, means surrendering to God. It translates specifically as surrendering the fruits of our actions to God. When we release our fears and hopes for the future we can be fully present in the moment.
Yoga is not going to bring you something that is lacking. Through practicing the niyamas you are simply removes the obstacles that prevent your present reality experience of samadhi (union with the divine).
Again, alignment is an important overarching theme here. When we practice Svadhyaya (study of the self) we have awareness to know what is for our greatest and highest good – physically, mentally, emotionally, energetically, and spiritually. We can practice saucha (cleanliness) by listening to our bodies and eliminating physical, mental, emotional, energetic and spiritual toxins from our lives so that we may experience santosha. This takes tapas/discipline. Through this tapas/discipline we will experience the most amazing grace, an uncovering of the truth of our reality, samadhi. Finally, when we treat our bodies, minds and spirits like the temples that they are, we will have no trouble surrendering our actions to the Divine. Through all of this we will experience the most beautiful alignment and balance.
How can you balance between santosha (contentment with what is) and tapas (disciplined practice) both in your yoga practice and your everyday life?
Resource: Inside the Yoga Sutras by Reverend Carrera Jaganath
Props Needed: yoga strap, yoga mat, yoga blocks, yoga bolster
Yoga Postures/Asanas: Paryankasana/Hero Pose Variation, Dead Bug Pose, Couch Pose/Anantasana, Pigeon/Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, Lion’s Pose/Simhasana, Downward Facing Dog/Adho Mukha Svanasana, Tree Pose/Vriksasana, Eagle Pose/Garudasana,, Puppy/Uttana Shishosana, Marichyasana/Marichyasana’s Twist, Marichyasana Forward Fold, Alternate Nostril Breathing/Nadi Sodhana