The 5 do’s of the eightfolded path: niyamas

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The 5 do’s of the eightfolded path: niyamas Written by Sophie Nusselder

If you have been practicing yoga for a while, you are probably familiar with asana, pranayama and/or meditation. All three of them are very important tools to aid your transformation and can help you to live a happier and more content life.

However, yoga is as much about what we do off our mat, as it is about what we do on it. Yoga is not just a series of poses that we do to aid your transformation. It is a way of life, a philosophy for living. Centuries ago, the great sage Patanjali designed a map to help you chart your own course to contentment; this map suggests not just asana (postures) and meditation but also attitudes and behaviours.

Maybe you know already where I’m talking about? Yes! I’m talking about the eight-folded path of yoga. The eight folded path actually contains advice for daily living and for your emotional and mental well-being; which can result in a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

The next series I’ll dive into the eight folded path of yoga according to sutra 2.29.

YS 2.29 “Yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, samadhi ashtau angani. “Restraint, fixed rules, postures, regulation of breath, sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation and higher states of consciousness are eight limbs of yoga.

In a former article I introduced you to the first limb of the eight folded path: the Yamas. Yamas??? Uhhhmmmm…Yes! The Yamas! Doesn’t ring a bell anymore. Ok. Let’s refresh your mind a bit. These are the Yamas:

Yamas (ethical percepts or core values)

In book 2 of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali explains how and why each of the above self restraints help in the personal growth of an individual. These are described and listed by Patanjali in sutra 2.30

  • Ahiṃsā: Nonviolence, non-harming other living beings
  • Satya : truthfulness, non-falsehood
  • Asteya : non-stealing
  • Brahmacārya : sensual abstinence
  • Aparigraha : non-avarice, non-possessiveness

Where the Yamas focus on the don’ts the Niyamas focus on the do’s.  🙂


In Indian traditions, particularly Yoga, niyamas are recommended activities and habits for healthy living, spiritual enlightenment and liberated state of existence. It has multiple meanings depending on context in Hinduism. In Buddhism, the term extends to the determinations of nature, as in the Buddhist niyama dhammas.

The practice of Niyama helps us maintain a positive environment in which to grow, and gives us the self-discipline and inner-strength necessary to progress along the path of yoga.

In the next blog I’ll introduce you to the first niyama: Shausha.

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