Yamas and Niyamas are among the eight steps of Yoga. Yama – Code of Conduct and Niyama – Self-discipline.

Yama (Self Restraint)

Yama is to create a pleasant environment around you. To Patanjali, self-restraint means to direct one’s life, not mean to repress oneself. How can you move inwards if you are adverse to everybody fighting, hateful, or angry? Harmony between yoga practitioners and other people is essential for the inner journey.

Yama 1 – Ahimsa (non-harming nonviolence):  Nonviolence means to love; it is the first discipline. Ahimsa means loving-kindness to others, compassion, mercy, and gentleness, and corresponds to the commandment “thou shall not kill” or hurt anyone, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally, directly or indirectly. It is also the attitude of the mind that determines karma.

Yama 2 – Satya (truthfulness): Truthfulness means authenticity, be truthful to yourself. Listen to your inner voice. The guide exists within you. Not concealing the truth or exaggerating. Telling the truth not only external but also part of internal

Observation. I am acknowledging the flaws and facing them without fear and guilt. Being in the present moment helps to be truthful.

Yama 3 – Asteya (Non-Stealing): Stealing takes what one has not earned; it can be material things, money, or knowledge. You should be original and be aware that “these things don’t belong to me.” In deeper meaning, nothing belongs to you in this world. And not to desire another’s possessions, qualities, or status.

Yama 4 – Brahmacharya: It means living like a god and living a life of the divine. To live like a divine, one has to transform their energy through Yoga and meditation. The word brahmacharya is not exactly celibacy and has a broader meaning. One cannot attain brahmacharya by repressing sex. By practicing Yoga and meditation without ego person’s actions become divine. Also, all the steps are surrendered to the divine, and there is no doer. Once you attain brahmacharya, the person changes within, and the relations with the world also change. The same energy going into sex will transform into love; if taken higher, it becomes compassion and unconditional love.

Yama 5 – Aparigraha (non-possessiveness, non-greed, no clinging) – By Possessing, we become possessed by what we have. If a person is too attached to material things or the people in relation, it will not be so easy for them to enter into meditation or walk on the path of Yoga fully. Nonpossession means not renouncing the material things but enjoying and making life more convenient and living comfortably without possessing the things or getting attached to them. Sharing will help come out of a possessive state or habit. We are not accumulating things that are not necessary and not in use—living voluntary simplicity.

Niyama (Observance). Niyama is self-discipline for yourself and living beautifully with cleanliness and hygiene.

Shaucha (purity) – means cleanliness, orderliness, and Internal and external purification. Maintaining hygiene and purity about food, body, and mind should be a way of living beautifully for yoga practitioners. The Shatkarma’s (yogic detox) is the part of Shaucha. The body is the temple of the divine consciousness, and the reason is the extension and expression. To reach the state of Samadhi, the purity of the body and mind should be taken care of.

Santosha (Contentment): Peace, tranquility, acceptance of the way things are. Contentment is not consolation about what you are missing in your life, but it is appreciated with respect and love for what you have in your life. An ambitious person cannot meditate, and they lack contentment even if their ambitions get fulfilled at some point in their life.

Tapas: it means austerity, practical, spiritual discipline. Tapas is not limited to abstinence-only but can be practiced in daily life and moment to moment. In most difficult situations, following nonviolence, patience, truthfulness, forgiving others, and living life undisturbed, centered with love and awareness is also Tapa. Practicing Yoga and meditation with consistency and observing that there is no ego for what you achieve and there is no frustration if you do not accomplish this is Tapa.

Swadhyay (self-study, Self-inquiry, mindfulness spiritual study) – Swa means self, and Adhyay means study. You are accepting yourself and observing your actions, thoughts, and feelings. Just by following without prejudice and attachment, purification happens on physical, mental, and emotional levels. One can start feeling the self after following the above steps (from Ahimsa to Tapa). There is another meaning of Upadhyay means meditating on the self.

Ishwarapranidhan (surrender to God) – “not my will, but thy will be done.” For Patanjali, God helps on the way. In the name of God, one can surrender easily. By offering, the ego becomes less, and one can relax easily. In Yoga, whoever walks on this path, attains something more or less depending on the intensity of the practice. Seeing the results, great ego can arise, which is a significant obstacle in the journey towards meditation. This is also a way to give credit to God or divine power and feel unburdened by the ego.