Applying The Yamas and Niyamas

Author: Jackieb / Date: 07-04-2015 / Tag: Full Circle Yoga, Yoga Longmont, Yoga Studio Longmont CO, Yamas, Niyamas /

“Sophie, the only thing preventing you from recovery is your flexibility,” said my physical therapist.

“You do know I’m a yoga instructor, right?”  I replied sarcastically.  

I’m 9 weeks after hip surgery.  I’m in the 99 percentile for recovery and what’s preventing me from moving forward is my flexibility.  The surgery left me bruised, scarred and damaged, but all these wounds are nothing compared to the years of damage being self-conscious about my figure inflicted upon me.  Every day I have pain in my shoulder, not my hip.  My shoulder hurts because I spent years hunching forward, trying to hide my large chest.  In turn, my back stopped moving and I had no inkling about this damage until it prevented my full recovery from my recent surgery.

My shoulder pain is a daily reminder of the harm negative thoughts and fear can inflict upon the body.  I was called a slut in middle school because I had a large chest.  Thus, I used my body to hide my chest so the names would go away.  Now, I am working to heal all these years of self-hatred and walls I placed around my chest and heart.  I am working with compassion and contentment for the person I see in the mirror and to let go of the fear that I am not good enough to be loved.  These notions are part of the yamas and niyamas in the Eight Limbs.  The yamas are for how to treat others and the niyamas share how to treat yourself.   

They are super difficult to observe for they are ideas that can seem intangible.  Fortunately, I found they often appear in my life when I need them most.  For example, I find that looking at myself in the mirror, truly looking at myself, is very healing.  At first, it’s scary and awful and I wanted to run away.  Then, I remembered to breathe.  I remembered that my breath could soothe my thoughts.  It can melt away my deepest fears and insecurities, like magic.  I encourage you to try the yamas and niyamas on your mat.  If you choose contentment, notice if you constantly strive to push yourself where your body is not ready.  If you thought yes, see where this non-contentment is appearing off your mat.  Practice it off and on your mat and remember that every teacher is working with this too.  These are universal laws to help you and how you treat others.  



The Yamas include:
Ahimsa ~ Nonviolence
Satya ~ Truthfulness
Asteya ~ Nonstealing
Brahmacharya ~ Nonexcess
Aparigraha ~ Nonpossessiveness

The Niyamas include:
Saucha ~ Purity
Santosha ~ Contentment
Tapas ~ Self-discipline
Svadhyaya ~ Self-study
Ishvara Pranidhana ~ Surrender

Namaste, Sophie