RAJA YOGA: NIYAMAS - INTERNAL PRACTICES





Hello every body, welcome to Atma's blog. Today we are going to talk about Niyamas, the second limb of Raja Yoga. Niyamas make reference to how we relate with ourselves and our inner world. There are 5 Niyamas or internal practices that form the second limb of Raja Yoga. These are: Saucha or purification, Santosha or contentment, Tapas or austerity, Swadhyaya or self observance and Ishvara Pranidhana or surrender.


SAUCHA

Saucha or purification refers to purifying the mind. It is important to note here, that Saucha does not imply that we are impure by nature. Saucha refers to reducing all the things that cause disturbance of the mind in order to prepare ourselves for meditation.


Disturbance of the mind occurs through external information that we gather through the senses, as well as thoughts and emotions that govern our internal state of being. If your mind is disturbed and you sit to meditate, it is very likely meditation won’t take place. Instead, the mind will wander towards the external and internal objects that govern us. To maintain a still mind, you must de-clutter the mind from unnecessary sense stimulation, as well as thoughts and emotions.


SANTOSHA

Santosha or contentment refers to a feeling of acceptance with ourselves and our lives. Contentment does not mean to conform to the things that we don’t like. Instead, contentment looks to understand why we are not happy with our lives, and remove the cause of such unhappiness. However, to do that we must objectively look at what causes our unhappiness.


One of the main reasons for our unhappiness is that we don’t have what we believe we should have. We are always focusing on what others have and we don’t. We are never content with what we have and always want to have more of what others have; whether its money, fame, or power. Instead of being grateful for what we have, we are ungrateful for what we don’t. But if you look at your life, 99% of the times, you will have great things to be grateful for. You just can’t see them, because you’re focusing on what you don’t have and others apparently have. So, gratitude is the secret to contentment.


TAPAS

Tapas or austerity refers to creating willpower and one pointedness towards our goals. The word tapas means heat, and it symbolizes the heat that is created through continual friction developed from change and transformation. Whenever we want to achieve something, we must endure different challenges to reach our destination. The endurance of these challenges helps in the practice of tapas. The more comfortable we become with uncomfortable situations, the more likely we are to succeed in our practice.


When we start a regular meditation practice, we can barely sit on the ground for more than 5 minutes. we fill uncomfortable and our body feels pain. However, by enduring this pain, we can sit for longer time and build a solid base for meditation. this is and example of the practice of tapas.


SWADHYAYA

Swadhyaya or self observance refers to being aware of ourselves. Being aware of ourselves, means to become aware of our thought patterns, and innermost conditioning. We are constantly focusing on the world around us, seeing the flaws in other people. We criticize them for thinking and being the way they are, but we rarely look inside us and become aware of our inner reality. We don’t do this because it is always easier to see the issues on others. However, we should be brave enough, and try to understand what is conditioning us and why we think and behave the way we do. Only by turning inwards we can remove these conditioning. The way out is actually the way in.


ISHVARA PRANIDHANA

Ishvara Pranidhana refers to surrendering. But surrendering to what? In order for our practice to bear fruits we must surrender and accept that things take place at larger scales, and these are out of our own control. To surrender does not mean to lose control, it means to put our need to control on something larger than us. This can be god, the universe or whatever you want; but it has to be something larger than yourself. Trying to control the outcome of your practice will not allow it to evolve, and you will eventually get frustrated. So, remember to surrender and let go of the outcome. you will be amazed of how surrendering works magic.