The Yogic Disciplines
A Yogi needs to live a disciplined life. People often complain that they are
practicing Yogic techniques but are not getting any benefits. If you investigate
you will find that such people often live an uncontrolled life. That is why life
based on Yama and Niyama is very essential.
Yama refers to social disciplines. Yama consists of five disciplines. They
- Satya (truthfulness)
- Ahimsa (non-violence)
- Asteya (non-stealing)
- Brahmacharya (celibacy)
- Aparigraha (non- possessiveness)
Satya means truthfulness. People often deviate from truthfulness in day to
day life. This deviation can be as trivial as instructing your assistant to tell
others on phone that you are not in the office even if you are or it can be
lying to gain some monetary benefits. A Yogi must follow truthfulness at all
Ahimsa means non-violence of any kind. Often Himsa is considered as physical
injury to others. However, hatred, bitterness and “mental” violence is also a
kind of Himsa. Thus Ahimsa means total avoidance of any such activities
physical, mental or otherwise.
Asteya refers to non-stealing. Though the literal meaning of asteya is
non-stealing, it includes the essence of honesty. In order to stealing something
you need not be a thief. Cheating your relatives to grab larger share of your
ancestral property is also stealing. All such acts of dishonesty should be
rooted out from our life.
The literal meaning of Brahmacharya is following Bramhan or higher reality.
However, more commonly it is referred to observing celibacy. It is important to
know that celibacy not only refers to physical restrain but also to mental and
verbal restrain. If you are unmarried it is better to stick to strict celibacy.
If you are married, following moderation in sexual life is recommended.
Aparigraha means non- possessiveness. Man’s greedy nature pushes him to keep
everything he needs, presently or in future, in his possession. Desires for
money and luxuries are never ending. He can’t live in a single house. He needs
additional bungalows. One car is not enough, he needs four! Such an attitude
should be banished.
As you can see Yoga has included values of life or ethics as a part of Yogic
practices. In modern world you may find people who claim that in order to attain
Yoga only certain Pranayama or Asanas are to be done. Take it for sure that such
people do not know what Yoga is. It is the truth that Yoga is attained only by
the one who has perfected himself in Yama and Niyama. Following Yama in strict
sense might be very difficult for most of us. However, that doesn't reduce its
importance. If you want good fruits then you must nourish the tree well. It's
the same thing with Yoga.
Niyama means self discipline. Niyama are five in number:
- Shaucha (cleanliness)
- Santosha (contentment)
- Tapas (austerities)
- Svadhyaya (study)
- Ishwarapranidhana (surrender to God)
Anybody willing to pursue the path of Yoga must cleanse his body and mind. It
is very important to note that keeping your mind clean is equally important to
bodily cleanliness. It is very easy to get mind dirty with lots of impurities.
Unless your body-mind equipment is not clean and strong you can’t attain higher
stages of Yoga.
How many of us are completely satisfied and happy with what we have today?
Possibly very few. Everyone wants "something more" than what he has today. If
you are not happy and peaceful you can’t practice Yoga perfectly. Your mind will
always be distracted. That's why contentment is very important. Contentment is
happiness with one's condition and situation in life, or the state of being
Tapas means practices of austerities. Note that Tapas does not mean
torturing your body or mind. It is tuning your body and mind to face tough
conditions. Tapas burns out all the impurities from your body and mind.
Svadhyaya refers to studying various Yogic techniques and
scriptures. The most important thing in attainment of Yoga is regular practice
of Yogic techniques. In addition studying scriptures is recommended because they
give you wisdom and attitude for living.
Ishwarapranidhana is offering everything that you have - good as
well as bad - to God. Once you cultivate such devotional attitude you will find
that your wrong deeds, bad habits slowly go away. Somewhere in mind you feel
that - "I am offering all my deeds to the God. How can I offer such wrong, bad
things to the God?". Naturally your offering to the God becomes purer day by
Yama and Niyama are not for just reading or telling others.
They are to be strictly followed in day to day life. They are difficult to
follow but trying your best to follow them decides your progress. On the one
hand you are practicing "Yoga" and on the other, you are craving for "Bhoga".
This will certainly take you nowhere. Such attitude will prove to be harmful to
your spiritual progress.