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Yoga: Yamas & Niyamas

Yamas & Niyamas

I remember when I began studying the Yamas & Niyamas. I wondered how would I ever remember them in their Sanskrit terms and what do they really mean? An avid reader, I decided the best way to understand these moral codes from the Yoga Sutras would be to read a book that goes into more detail about the behind-the-scenes meaning of ancient Sanskrit words via contemporary time.

Carlsbad Village Yoga Studio in Carlsbad blog
If you are learning the Yamas and Niyamas, try Deborah Adele’s book, “The Yamas & Niyamas, ‘Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice.”

If you are familiar with the beatitudes or the Ten Commandments, these are both a good comparison to give you a deeper understanding what these to words mean. Think of the Yamas  as a moral universal code and the Niyamas as a moral code that can help us live a more mindful, peaceful existence.

The Five Yamas & Five Niyamas: 


  • Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): Nonviolence, non-harming to self or others.
  • Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, honesty: “Truth has the power to right and end wrongs. It is fierce in its demands and magnanimous offerings.” -Deborah Adele
  • Asteya (अस्तेय): Non-stealing, Do not take from others. “Imagine if each time we took something, we gave something back.”-Deborah Adele
  • Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): Non Excess/Withdrawal from the senses.
  • Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः):Non-possessiveness
  • NIYAMAS-Virtues-Moral Codes to follow
  • Śauca (शौच): Cleanliness. Purity. 
  • .Santoṣa (सन्तोष): Contentment.
  • Tapas (तपस्) Discipline.
  • Svādhyāya (स्वाध्याय): Study of self.
  • Īśvarapraṇidhāna (ईश्वरप्रणिधान): Surrender.
    • When we take time to invest in ourselves and live a life that follows set principles, new doors can open and we can unhinge ourselves from wrong thinking. The Yamas and Niyamas are a gateway for each of us to comprehend our strengths and our weaknesses. This philosophy is one to study and live by. I still struggle with a few of them, but that’s okay. It’s good to pinpoint our weaknesses and improve upon our character at any age. It’s never too late to refine our lifestyle and improve upon SELF. – Namaste, Machel

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