Yoga Ethics

This yoga ethics conversation is a continuation of last week’s Post about the Yamas. As Yogis, it is important we understand how ethics matters just as much as asana (poses), pranayama (breathing), and meditation. The four parts together are an integral part of improving our well being. Last week focused on the Yamas which help us relate to the world around us. However, this week we’ll discuss the  Niyamas, which are more focused on how we self regulate.


The Niyamas are the ethics that help us manage stress, eat healthy, and limit our exposure to toxins.

Sauca – Cleanliness/Purity

This particular yoga ethic warrants its own post as it encompasses anything we do. Through yoga we attempt to purify our mind, body and emotions. However, we’ll discuss sauca (pronounced saucha) in reference to chronic illness. For example, gut health, clean air, and being organized can all impact our well being. Focusing on eating clean (supplements without fillers) and balancing bacteria in our body are important ways to improve our well being. Additionally, keeping organized so that we’re regularly setting and keeping doctors appointments to improve health matters. Moreover, ensuring the environment (mold etc) is not exacerbating a chronic illness is also a way to practice sauca. Sauca is not just about taking a shower and being clean. To improve your well being sauca is about purity of your daily actions.

Santosa – Contentment

This yoga ethic is using our inner wisdom to understand less is more. As a result, we are able to be content with what we have when we only pursue that which fulfills us. As a consumerism society, it can be a struggle to avoid buying “things” that only provide momentary happiness. Finding contentment through things like watching sunrises and sunsets can aid in calming the nervous system. Moreover, finding balance in the nervous system helps improve our overall well being. Ambition is not the devil, the wrong ambition is what pulls us from contentment. Furthermore, self discovery helps us find what truly fulfills us and leads us to better well being.

Tapas – Self Sacrifice/Detoxification

Tapas is the ethics to overcome our internal affilictions through burning off impurities. It is a lifelong pursuit of continual sacrifice and detoxification through clean eating and appropriate rest and asana practice. However, it is important to understand that detoxification does not mean extreme fasting. Rather the intention is to focus on healing and restoring/regenerating balance in our mind and body as a slow continual process. Furthermore, in discussion about appropriate asana, it is important to understand that fast vinyasa was developed for teen boys to burn off energy. I might sound like a robot repeating myself, but slow yoga that allows us to focus on how our mind, body, and heart feels allows us to practice tapas and improve our well being.

Svadhyaya – Self Inquiry

Svadhyaya is the ethic of connecting to who we truely are and understanding our dharma. I highly recommend reading the Bhavagad Gita which is about discovering ones true purpose and understanding dharma may not be about what you want. For example, in understanding ourselves better, we do things like eat for nourishment when we are hungry. On the contrary, many of us eat because of our schedule or enjoyment. As a result we are not in tune with our own bodies. Yoga helps nourish the practice of svadhyaya by helping us tune into our emotions, sensations and thoughts. Really tuning into ourselves helps us find ease in life.

Isvarapranidhana – Accepting Higher Support

Isvara pranidhana is the yoga ethic of surrendering to a higher power. That higher power, can be god, nature etc, but it is accepting that we cannot master/control the world. There is much in life that we cannot choose and consequently we should not be attached to outcomes. Furthermore, focusing on the journey can be a positive way towards healing and well being

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