You are now entering a Yama free zone… well, sort of.
We move now onto the second limb of yoga (eight in total remember) – the Niyamas!
What’s the difference between a Yama and a Niyama, you ask?
The Yamas are our regulating behaviours involving our interactions with other people and the world at large, the Niyamas are personal practices that relate to our inner world.
Yama is a self restraint and Niyama is an observance.
So our first Yama is Saucha, or cleanliness – or the ability to recognise bad habits, Samskaras as we call them in yoga, meaning ‘same scar’.
We often repeat bad habits don’t we? On the mat and in life.
On the mat – maybe it’s breaking up your flow to remove a hair or a bit of fluff off your mat, not trying to switch off in Savasana and instead planning your shopping list in your head, forcing ourselves into poses, not remembering that comparison is the thief of joy… bad habits are hard to break.
Like an abusive relationship (plutonic or romantic) that you keep going back to, an addiction to sugar, binge drinking when you are sad or depressed, working too hard, not knowing when to stop – all bad habits.
And maybe I offer you now a little more on this – when is a bad habit a ‘bad’ habit? How is working too hard bad, when you love your job ‘bad’? Well, maybe it’s not, but maybe if it gets in the way of your friends and family, your ability with connect with those that love you dearly, maybe it becomes a habit that you fall into only too easily – and you never really give yourself a break?
I muse from the heart, you know this – my Samskara is my work be it yoga or digital marketing – I love what I do, I love to help, I LOVE to be useful, but sometimes I have a tendency to forget the man at home on my sofa as a result, or maybe I forget to call my granddad one week, or I forget to eat a proper meal, or think to myself ‘sleep is such a chore, if I didn’t have to sleep I would be sooooo much more productive’ – it’s a terrible thing to think, but I think it. I thrive on work, I thrive on helping people, I thrive on being useful because I know it helps others, but even the best intentions for others can create bad habits that harm the self.
(And again, I talk about myself so you know that this is no preaching session, trust me I am practicing all these Yamas and Niyamas daily – practice being the operative word!)
When we talk about cleanliness, we consider the fact that a clean room creates a clear mind.
(Finding space in a building site is not ideal…)
If you have a home practice you will know how epically awesome it is to do one within a fully free two hour time slot, in a clean room, with incense, everything in it’s place, a clean mat, clean feet and clean yoga clothes.
Cleanliness can create the most DELICIOUS practice you will EVER have – the same way that clean sheets make the most delicious night’s sleep, or a clean house just makes the world go round.
When we cleanse our space we cleanse the mind, pushing out the negative vibes, the stress, the fear, the ‘not good enough’, we just let it go and flow.
What we practice on the mat we can take into life, and what we learn in life we can relate to what happens on the mat.
That’s what makes yoga so great as a concept, not just a physical and spiritual practice.