Yama and Niyama


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Yama and Niyama (Ethical Rules in Yoga)

Excerpt from "Oriental Medicine Seminar by Masatoshi Takeshita"

In traditional yoga, when a yoga practitioner who seeks for enlightenment starts studying under a teacher, the first lesson the teacher gives the disciple is about Yama and Niyama. Yama and Niyama mean ‘the things you should not do’ and ‘the things you should do positively’.


Yama

  1. Nonviolence: Do not hurt any beings. Refrain from needless killing.
  2. Honesty: Do not deceive. Do not tell a lie.
  3. Non-theft: Do not steal. Do not desire what belongs to others.
  4. Continence: Do not neglect your health. Live in accordance with order of nature.
  5. Absence of avarice: Do not be greedy. Do not possess more than what is necessary.

Niyama

  1. Purity: Keep mind and body clean.
  2. Contentment: Know satisfaction.
  3. Mortification: Do not be disturbed under any circumstances.
  4. Scripture reading: Read enlightening books.
  5. Faith in the Supreme Lord: Follow the guidance of truth.

As for nonviolence, you actually should not hurt any living creatures and in addition, should not hurt them even in the level of thought. It is necessary to observe the discipline in all of the three: thought, word and deed. It is very difficult to practice it, but if a person truly achieves nonviolence, he/she is said to be not hurt by anybody. And if a person devotes him/herself to being honest, it is said that what he/she says will be realized. Yama and Niyama are the teachings for daily life which have spiritually deep meanings.