Post By: Vishwanath Iyer Published on: December 7, 2016 Reading time: 3 minutes
Firstly, niyama is the process of increasing our internal discipline and self-control. Importantly, while yama is the process of harmonising our relationship with our environment, niyama is the practice of assimilating the impact of stimulus on the sense of self-worth (asmitā). Together, niyama and yama increase harmony between our sense of self-worth (asmitā) and awareness of the Self (jñāna) within the stimuli-response cycle.
Consequently, awareness (prajñā) increases, which improves discrimination capability (vivekam) and dispassion (vairāgyam) in decision making.
First, stimulus is received through our senses (indriya) and collated by cognition (manas). Next, depending on the sensitivity of awareness (vijñāna), the information is then compared with conditioning (dharma) by the intellect (buddhi). Finally, a response is formulated by our sense of doer-ship (ahaṅkāra).
Also, the stimuli-response cycle impacts our sense of identity (asmitā) which changes awareness of our Self (jñāna).
So, while yama is the process of harmonising our relationship with our environment, niyama is the practice of harmonising the stimulus with our Self.
Importantly, to achieve an integrated personality svatantra (sva = self + tantra = weave), one’s behaviour must be integrated with one’s conditioning. Moreover, this ability comprises of 2 parts – a harmonic relationship with the environment and harmony within.
Furthermore, niyama means rules or laws for personal well-being and is the ability to achieve a harmony within the Self. Consequently, there is an increase in internal awareness, better assessment of impact of stimuli on one’s conditioning, leading to improved calmness in various situations and lower stress in both, the person and the environment. Importantly, niyama is the base of yama (our ability to transact with our environment).
Finally, the inward focus increases jñāna (awareness of one’s identity), resulting in a harmonic integration of one’s conditioning with behaviour and an independent personality or svatantra.
(Ch1 v17) The 10 rules of niyama are – ahiṃsā (non-violence), satya (Truth), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacaryam (sexual continence), kṣamā (forgiveness), dhṛti (self-command), dayā (compassion), ārjavam (frankness or being straightforward), mitāhāra (controlled diet), śaucam (cleanliness).
The 10 rules of niyama are tapas (austerity), santoṣam (contentment), āsthikyam (belief in the Vedas), dānam (charity), ishwara-pūjanam (prayer to God), siddhānta-vākyam (discussing first principles), hrīmat (modesty), japo (japa), hutam (yajñá or sacrifice) has been stated by yoga-śāstra experts.
Ch2 v32 – Cleanliness, contentment, austerity, self study/ reflection, surrender to a God comprises niyama.
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