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NIYAMA – Positive duties or observances

The second limb, Niyama, usually refers to duties directed towards ourselves, but can also be considered with our actions towards the outside world. The prefix ‘ni’ is a Sanskrit verb which means ‘inward’ or ‘within’. There are five Niyamas:

  • saucha (cleanliness),

  • santosha (contentment),

  • tapas (discipline or burning desire or conversely, burning of desire),

  • svadhyaya (self-study or self-reflection, and study of spiritual texts), and

  • isvarapranidaha (surrender to a higher power).

Niyamas are traditionally practised by those who wish to travel further along the Yogic path and are intended to build character. Interestingly, the Niyamas closely relate to the Koshas, our ‘sheaths’ or ‘layers’ leading from the physical body to the essence within. As you’ll notice, when we work with the Niyamas – from saucha to isvararpranidhana – we are guided from the grossest aspects of ourselves to the truth deep within.

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