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Introducing the Yoga Life: Laying the Foundations

yoga life faceThis podcast [see below for player] is the beginning of a series on how to lead the Yoga Life. Today Abbot George discusses what is lacking in the yoga practice of many, and why people fail or do not persevere in the path of yoga. Then he outlines the beginning of what the essential steps to success are.

First, what is meant by yoga, and what is the Yoga Life? What are the stages of an individual’s evolution? Then what are the “Foundations of Yoga”: Yama and Niyama?

Yama and Niyama are often called the Ten Commandments of Yoga, but they have nothing to do with the ideas of sin and virtue or good and evil as dictated by some cosmic potentate. Rather they are determined by a thoroughly practical, pragmatic basis: that which strengthens and facilitates our yoga practice should be observed and that which weakens or hinders it should be avoided.

It is not a matter of being good or bad, but of being wise or foolish. Each one of these Five Don’ts (Yama) and Five Do’s (Niyama) is a supporting, liberating foundation of Yoga. Yama means self-restraint in the sense of self-mastery, or abstention, and consists of five elements. Niyama means observances, of which there are also five.

Here is the complete list of these ten observances as given in Yoga Sutras 2:30,32:

  1. Ahimsa: non-violence, non-injury, harmlessness
  2. Satya: truthfulness, honesty
  3. Asteya: non-stealing, honesty, non-misappropriativeness
  4. Brahmacharya: sexual continence in thought, word and deed as well as control of all the senses
  5. Aparigraha: non-possessiveness, non-greed, non-selfishness, non-acquisitiveness
  6. Shaucha: purity, cleanliness
  7. Santosha: contentment, peacefulness
  8. Tapas: austerity, practical (i.e., result-producing) spiritual discipline
  9. Swadhyaya: introspective self-study, spiritual study
  10. Ishwarapranidhana: offering of one’s life to God

This podcast is 20 minutes long.

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