After covering the 5 Yamas we are now starting on the 5 Niyamas - the 5 observations or self training recommended to create balance in our inner world.
To recap the 5 Yamas (restraints, relating to creating balance in our external world) suggested by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are:
- Ahimsa - non-harming, non violence
- Satya - truthfulness
- Asteya - non-stealing
- Brahmacharya - moderation, right use of energy
- Aparigraha - non-attachment, non-hoarding, non-greediness
For further information please read previous blogs on the subjects (8 limbs of Yoga), (Yamas), (Ahimsa, the 1st of the Yamas), (Satya, the 2nd of the Yamas), (Asteya, the 3rd of the Yamas), (Brahmacharya, the 4th of the Yamas) and (Aparigraha, the 5th of the Yamas)
First up of the Niyamas is Saucha - purity of body and mind.
The Yoga Sutras Chapter 2.40-41 relating to Saucha states 'Through cleanliness and purity of body and mind, the mind naturally begins toward the divine and away from the external, physical world' 'Also through cleanliness and purity of body and mind comes a purification of the subtle mental essence, a pleasantness, goodness and gladness of feeling, a one-pointedness with intentness, mastery over the senses, and a fitness, capability of self-realisation'
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Saucha, purification is a central aim of many yogic techniques. It is especially important as until the mind or body are not clean when we bring in more energy we are just energising the waste/toxins in ourselves. The practices of asana, pranayama and meditation cleanse and purify the body and mind but we also have to take note of what we bring in through the 5 senses (food, drink, friends we surround ourselves with, entertainment we watch, our home furnishings, transportation etc).
We also have 6 powerful cleansing techniques in Yoga called the Shatkriyas or Shatkarmas (the 6 cleansing practices). These are:
1. Dhauti - for cleansing the the digestive taract, respiratory tract, eyes and ears (practices like tounge scrapping, oil pulling, Agnisar techinque, Hrid dhauti, Alernate Nostril Breathing) - the last three we practice in class too. There is also a short video of the practive of Alternate Nosril Breathing on the website for current students.
2. Basti - for cleansing the lower abdomen, colon (practices like colonics or Sthali basti)
3. Neti - for cleansing the air passageways in the head, nose (practices like Neti pot where we pour salted water through the nostril to cleanse them and Nasya where we lubricate the nostrils by massaging oil inside the nostrils)
4. Nauli - for cleansing the abdominal region, digestive organs and small intestine by massaging the internal organs through a churning movement of the abdominal muscles with the breath
5. Kapalabhati - for cleansing the head, brain, 'the shining skull breath' where we use short and strong forceful exhalations and let the inhalation happen naturally- we also practice this in class and there is a short video of it on the website for current students.
6. Tratak - for cleansing the 3rd eye energy center by gazing at a single point like a candle or a small object and keeping our gaze focused on it