What are the Yamas and Niyamas?

The first step, or limb, in yoga is the Yamas, and the second limb is Niyamas.  Asana is what we’re most familiar with in a yoga class, and maybe Pranayama, and these are the third and fourth of 8 limbs.  The Yamas and niyamas are each five considerations for living skillfully.  They are not specific rules, but invitations for you to generate your own ways of being.  Yoga can be a philosophy and a lifestyle, but it’s important to point out that it’s not a religion.

The five yamas invite us to examine how we affect the world around us, and the five niyamas invite us to examine how we treat ourselves.


Great sources for further information:

HeartOfYogaWhen putting the info cards together, I used the translation and interpretation of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali from T.K.V. Desikachar in his book The Heart of Yoga.

I also kept coming across affirmations I liked, and a page from my teacher-training notebook says they’re from the Kripalu Center.

One online source I found for these was within a cool blog called The Pragmatic Yogi with a page about the “10 commandments of yoga.”

Other good sources on the Yamas include writings on the site of author Judith Hanson Lasater and nice, concise affirmations from Cloud Nine Yoga Studio & School.  I also really enjoyed essays by a yogi named Amey – check out her posts on the yamas and niyamas!