Your yoga practice is a gateway to knowing yourself, your mind and your body and being able to elevate your spirit. But it is not only that, the yoga philosophy also provides the tools to have better relationships with others.
Patanjali, the Indian sage and scholar that took the trouble to transcribing all the oral tradition of the teaching of yoga into a book, called Yoga Sutra, describes the Nyamas in detail.
Remember that the ultimate aim of yoga is to obtain personal freedom, which comes from self-awareness. This self-awareness is also the key to mastering the mystery of human relations. Learning to live with others begins with learning to live with ourselves, and the Yoga Sutra provides many tools for both of these tasks.
The constant work we need to do, is to relinquish our ego – which is not an easy thing to do. Living your yoga means that you will act and react not form your ego, but putting things into perspective and applying compassion. If you don’t, then you have a blind fold and you cannot connect with others deeply and meaningfully. You might be at risk of living in the illusion of being separate from each other, when in fact we are all part of the same energy, the same universe.
The niyamas, are the second “limb” of Patanjali’s eight-limbed yoga system. In Sanskrit, “niyama” means “observance,” and these practices extend the ethical guidelines provided in the first limb, the yamas. The five niyamas are: purity (saucha); contentment (santosa); austerity (tapas); self-study (svadhyaya); and devotion to the Lord (isvara pranidhana). We’ll work on all of these on the coming weeks.
What is purity? Some yoga practitioners relate purity to the avoidance of certain foods, thoughts, activities, and or people! But we live in a rich and varied world that wants to helps us.
Purity starts from your heart. The intention that you put on the things that you do and the interactions you have, will determine how ‘pure’ you can be.
What is important to highlight here is that, unlike other moral rules, which are many times attached to religion, Patanjali doe not say that if you don’t follow these rules you’ll go to hell or anything of the sort. His teachings say that unless you incorporate these behaviours in your life today, you will suffer TODAY! If you embrace impurity in thought, word, or deed, you will suffer.
Start your Saucha practice by constantly examining the intention behind your actions.
To practice saucha try this week to have the intention to act from compassion rather than selfishness. When I treat others with compassion, I am practicing saucha, and at those times my relationships are as pure and connected as they can ever be.