dancing shiva

The SECOND LIMB of Patanjali’s ASHTANGA YOGA is a natural progression from the YAMAS (moral codes)


The second limb of Ashtanga Yoga, Niyama, or observances, are specific yogic disciplines.

ŚAUCA (cleanliness) is the first Niyama and refers to many levels of our life; starting with the obvious, such as personal hygiene (to prevent disease), but also including the state of our external environment. Śauca also encompasses the experience of vibrancy and freshness that comes with being clean, which is essential for an effective yoga practice.

SANTOSA (contentment) is the ability to be happy right now, whatever the situation. This sounds overly simplistic, but being able to suspend our thoughts about the present circumstance and just experience the radiance of pure being is in essence Santosa. This profoundly deep practice is cultivated over time and lies at the very heart of yoga. Creating a clear compassionate space within which life unfolds is not easy and creates much TAPAS (heat), which burns through obstacles and reveals their true essence.

TAPAS (heat) eventually bring a clarity and freedom that allows for the practice of SWADHYAYA (self-refection). This deep practice involves asking profound questions about the true nature of the self and its relationship to the world. Through Swadhaya the inner workings of the aspirants personality (or ego) is explored and their true inner potential revealed. This is the very essence of the yoga sadhana (practice) itself and arises naturally if commitment to the practice is sustained over an extended period of time.

Eventually ISHVARA PRANIDHANA (surrender or devotion) begins to arise. This trust in and humility to Divinity implies complete surrender, like falling from a tall tree without flinching a muscle. The absolute absence of doubt is a state of grace that arises from an experience of yoga (union) with Ishvara (often translated as God, but with no affiliation to a particular religion).

Therefore Ishvara Pranidhana leads to the state of Samadhi (bliss)

Tomorrow we’ll look at the limb that everyone knows about, the physical practice of ASANA!

share this page