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The Yamas and Niyamas

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

The Yamas and Niyamas are a code of principles, a set of guidelines intended to facilitate deep observance of self and behavior. Through this observance, we begin to see our role, our power in this life, and the effect we have on others. By following these simple principles, we can relieve ourselves of so much struggle, hardship, and conflict. They really are a magnificent tool of self-study and easy living.


Restraints, restrictions, to hold. Yamas help guide us away from certain behaviors, they provide boundaries and discipline around our understanding of self and our interactions with the world at large.

The Yamas are:

Ahimsa: Non-violence

Satya: Truthfulness

Asteya: Non-stealing

Brahmacharya: Non-excess

Aparigraha: Non-possessiveness


Adherence, observances, to witness. Niyamas help us see and focus on the beauty of what’s already there. The observances of Niyamas help to support a peaceful lifestyle.

The Niyamas are:

Saucha: Purity

Santosha: Contentment

Tapas: Self Discipline

Svadhyaya: Self Study

Ishvara Pranidhana: Surrender

Ancient Principles/ Modern Times

The most common reference book we use in modern Yogic study on the Yamas and Niyamas was written by Deborah Adele. Her neat packaging and interpretation of these powerful, ancient tools of practice are a guiding light for today’s Yogis. I give much credit to Ms. Adele for creating an inspiring, digestible handbook for modern practitioners, much of what she expounded upon has given me greater empowerment and teaching context for these essential studies.

The Yamas and Niyamas are a portion of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, a greater structure of Yogic study. They are the first of the eight limbs for a reason. By studying and practicing these simple concepts, we can lay an awesome foundation for our well-being and the health of our relationships. Yoga is a practice of total wellness, not just physical strength and flexibility, and the effort we put into our mental and emotional health only supports the results of our physical transformation.

In this series, I will unpack and explore with you the modern, fully-faceted understanding of these core principles and how you can apply them to your lifestyle and relationships, in order to experience the total benefit of all that Yoga offers.

We’ll dig in here, Ahimsa: Is Yoga Only For Wimps?

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