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Home > Hatha Yoga Techniques > Yams and Niyams
Hatha Yoga Yams and Niyams
Hatha yoga is set to become and integral part of disciple`s attitude and lifestyle. That is why, the eightfold schema layed down in yoga sutra is also prominent in Hatha Yoga concepts. All aspects of a person`s life is touched for leading a yogic life.

Out of which, Yama and Niyama forms the very foundations of yoga. Derived from the verbal root "to hold or to sustain" Yama may be translated as restraint. In yogic context, Yama denotes certain ethical principles regarding "self control" that ought to be cultivated in the aspiring yogi. These basic moral principles are prerequisite for any disciple keen on progressing further as a yogi. A guru often test and see for himself these qualities in his disciple before bestowing the ultimate knowledge. This is how sanctity of the knowledge is preserved in the worthy hands.

Niyama denotes a lesser degree of control and concern mainly with principles that concern one`s attitude to life. In the Yoga-Sutra five yamas and five Niyamas are mentioned, whereas in hatha texts the number of each is generally ten.

The Yams and Niyamas according to Hatha Yoga Pradipika are:

Yamas:

1. Ahimsa (non violence)
2. Satya (truth)
3. Asteya (non-stealing)
4. Brahmacharya (abstinence)
5. kshama (patience and forbearance)
6. dhrti (fortitude, resolve)
7. Daya (mercy, compassion)
8. Java (swiftness, dexterity (of mind))
9. Mitahara (Moderate appetite)
10. Shaucha (purity, cleanliness)

Niyamas:

1. Tapas (inner heat)
2. Santosha -(contentment)
3. Astikya - believer or follower of Vedas.
4. Dana - (charity)
5. Ishvara-puja (worship of god)
6. Siddhanta-vakya-shravana - (listening to the exposition of vedic knowledge)
7. Hri (modesty, humility)
8. mati - (discernment)
9. japa - (repetition of mantras)
10. huta - (sacrifice).

The indepth meaning of Yams and Niyamas is much more than in the terms expressed. They are to be instilled deeply in inner moral conviction and in practice in daily routine. That is why, they are always mentioned as the significant components of yoga discipline.

It is still sometimes claimed that hatha, and the Tantric or Saiva philosophy on which it draws, is somehow antagonistic to orthodox Vedism. Hatha yoga can be said to be in alignment with religious traditions, owing to three of the Niyamas (i.e. "conviction in Veda", "God worship" and "listening to Vedic knowledge").

Likewise it is a huge misunderstanding that the yoga tradition is indifferent to socio-ethical mores. As a matter of fact, the Yoga texts emphasizes that moral integrity is an indispensable precondition of success. The acquisition of power must be counter-balanced by a simultaneous growth of one`s sense of responsibility. That is the basis on which the knowledge is guarded from passing on to the wrong hands.

The Hath Yoga Pradipika also guides the yogi towards the most efficient and fruitful dietary system. It provides specific instructions as to which foods the yogi should eat and which are best avoided.

Suitable foods include: Wheat, rice, barley, Milk, ghee, brown sugar, butter, sugar-candy, honey, dry ginger, patolaka (a vegetable), five pot-herbs, green gram and pure water.

Those that are unsuitable include: Things which are bitter, sour, pungent, salty or burning, (most) green vegetables, oil, sesam, mustard, alcohol, fish, flesh, curds, buttermilk, horse-gram, the fruit of the jujuba, oil cakes, asafoetida, garlic, reheated or dry food, etc.

The food should be consumed as an offering to Siva, and that one quarter of the stomach should be left empty for ease of digestion and passage of `air` or vital force .

The final Yama shaucha (listed as a Niyama in the Yoga-Sutra ), constitutes a necessity to purify both the body and mind. Mental clarification is the result of various techniques of yoga. For the body, six specific exercises are prescribed.

Collectively it is referred as Sat Karmani Or Sat Kriya

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