In the ancient writings of the Yoga Sutras we come across the eight fold path of yoga, sometimes called Ashtanga Yoga (but not to be confused with the energetic physical practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa). The first two of these limbs are the Yamas and Niyamas, yogas foundational ethical practice.
The Yamas cover our external relationship with the world around, and how that effects us and others, the Niyamas our internal disciplines.
For those not familiar with them, the Yamas are:
Ahimsa ~ Nonviolence
Satya ~ Truthfulness
Asteya ~ Nonstealing
Brahmacharya ~ Nonexcess
Aparigraha ~ Nonpossessiveness
And the Niyamas:
Saucha ~ Purity
Santosha ~ Contentment
Tapas ~ Self-discipline
Svadhyaya ~ Self-study
Ishvara Pranidhana ~ Surrender
The original writing in the Sutras is quite terse, and its been left to teachers over the ages to expound and develop the meaning of these concepts. This book is no dry technical exposition of classical yoga, but instead takes the Yamas and Niyamas and addresses their relevance to our day to day lifes, sometimes taking a more sideways and unexpected look at their application 0n a practical basis.
In the tradition of the best Yoga the writing is non judgemental, and guides the reader to thinking and probing further.
For anyone looking to get an understanding of the ethics of Yoga, and its modern application they could do no worse than this little book. Its one I appreciate reading slowly a chapter ever few days, letting thoughts settle in, and a book I will doubtless return to.
Unsurprisingly the book has said me thinking little. A busy life with two businesses and a lot of voluntary sector commitments leads me to try and squeeze a lot into each day, with inevitable disappointment if things don’t get done or timings slip. Is such a schedule consistent with Ahimsa to myself and those around me? Am I guilty of not observing Brahmacharya or Santosha? Indeed in a thought process like this, is “guilty” a word which is consistent with Ahimsa to myself? Things for me to consider and sit with. I do enjoy a book which inspires some thinking.