YOGA AND ETHICS. YAMA AND NIYAMA

In yoga tradition a code of social and personal human behavior is called YAMA and NIYAMA rules.
In yoga tradition a code of social and personal human behavior is called YAMA and NIYAMA rules. In Patañjali's Yoga Sūtras YAMA and NIYAMA are the first two stages on yoga way. Some commentators interpret literally such sequence of actions and say that the main condition for a person willing to start his own pathway to personal evolution and self-improvement is observance of these rules. The main argument to the favor of such position is that the practice enhances the energy status and performance of a human, thus, amplifying and demonstrating more vividly all qualities present, as positive so negative. Observance of yama and niyama rules, generally speaking, ethical standards in yoga tradition, serves to insurance of a person on his way of spiritual development against movement towards "wrong direction".

In return, the commentators of Svātmārāma's Hatha Yoga Pradīpikā point out that it may be too questionable for a modern person to be in a direct conflict with his mind at the very beginning of his spiritual search. That is why the traditions of Hatha yoga practice start with body cleaning-up, then there are asana and pranayama, and yama with niyama may be practiced later, when the mind is more stable. There is no and can't be the only veracious interpretation, as it shouldn't be forgotten that every person starts his own way from a certain starting point, conditioned by a lot of factors and peculiarities of his life, as well as the surrounding reality.

Due to this it's important to understand that any division and separation of individual stages and sequences of limbs in yoga is caused by a necessity of conceptual understanding of the Tradition essence. It is no mere chance that in Patañjali's Yoga Sūtras there is dhāraṇā first (subject concentration), and only then dhyāna (coping with duality, adunation with subject). In order to refuse from a name and limitations of concepts it's necessary to understand and study them thoroughly. Applicably to the present article topic it may be said that it's necessary at first to examine and, at least, try to observe rules of Yama and Niyama, while practicing yoga. According to Desikachar, "Notwithstanding where we start yoga – from asana, pranayama, meditation or Yoga Sūtras studying", - the essence of studying process is the same. The more we progress, the more we realize the integral nature of our being, understanding that we consist of a body, breath, mind and something else". Everything influences everything, transformations are initialized by yogi gymnastic practice, cleaning-up of a body and energetic human structures, it also influences on a process of ethics transformation from outside into the internal component of a human.

Let's get in Yama and Niyama notions.
YAMA is ethical code of behavior, rules of moral discipline, aimed at control of a balance between a human, his inner life and vicinity:
1
Ahiṃsā
non-violence, non-causing harm to all living matters
2
Satya
honesty, refusal of self-deception
3
Asteya
non-stealing
4
Brahmacharya
moderation, all-round control of feelings
5
Aparigraha
non-possessiveness, non-grasping or non-greediness
NIYAMA is rules of personal behaviors or inner self-discipline, aimed at harmonization of inner perception:
1
Shaucha
cleanness of mind and body
2
Santosha
satisfaction
3
Tapas
intention, endeavor
4
Swadhyaya
study of sacred texts, self-observation
5
Ishwara Pranidhana
devote actions to God
One should understand that these standards and rules of behavior are virtual at all stages of a human, as physical, so energetic, sensual, mental and spiritual. Observance of Yama and Niyama rules helps to reduce a disharmony between own actions outside and own inner position, which, in its turn, leads to a peace of mind.
In conclusion I'd like to quote a fragment of a text from a book of Lappa Andrey V. "Yoga: tradition of unity", wherein, to my thinking, issues of interconnection of yoga and ethics are stated very clearly and understandably, and interesting as well.


«
"Ethics is the ultimate law relied upon by a human in his behavior.
It's very important from where the law proceeds: from the outside or inside.
Ethics proceeding from outside, indicates what a human should and shouldn't do. But till there are diseases and predilections in a human consciousness, dos and don'ts will just sustain them. First or last "the dam will be flooded out" and a person will "fall from grace".

Ethics found inside, is based on a love, as simple and natural state of clean consciousness. It's obtained through liberation from wrong believes of mind, stabilization by energy and adulthood of spirit.

Value of such ethics is much higher than ethics, imposed by external authority.

If there is no inner harmony, unbalanced energy rages inside of a human, it's useless to study such wit person to love and be tolerable. He will anyway be aggressive till the source of aggressiveness lives inside. Till there are compressed springs of non-avenged energies of wrong believes in his mind. Hence, one should aspire to eliminate the roots of this spiritual affection by means of energy balance. And to apply to this end real stabilizing exercises, not the external morality.
One should influence on reason, not consequence. That is why, in order to develop the true ethics the Tradition of yoga is in preference to cleaning-up and balancing of consciousness. And the result will quickly manifest itself at once after these changes really happen…"


»
Victoria Pekarchuk
Author
Sources used: Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, Hatha Yoga Pradīpikā with comments of Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Yoga Dipika by B.K.S. Iyengar, Desikachar T.K.V. "The Heart of Yoga", Lappa A.V. "Yoga: tradition of unity"
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